Aidan Kelly, Beach Ultimate, Beaches, BULA, Burrow Beach, Interview, Ultimate Frisbee, WCBU

WCBU : review of Open division with Ireland’s Aidan Kelly

By @SimonCocking

Well done on representing Ireland at WCBU.

Thanks Si! Much appreciated. The support back home was really immense and made us all feel even more proud to be representing our country.

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Open, were there many trials for it?

It was a little complicated, if I remember correctly. Boyler had a great policy where he was not only trying to construct a team, but attempting to publicise Beach Ultimate, so there were some people at the trial that weren’t actually fighting for a place there. Funnily enough the provisional team picked before the Mixed bid went through was also much different to the final squad!

How did you find training over the winter for it?

It was…interesting. We knew that it was never going to replicate the conditions that Dubai would greet us with, but we all had very determined and positive mindsets for each training weekend. It was almost always windy, and absolutely freezing, but we still had plenty of opportunities to fine tune our tactics and attempt to gel as much as possible. The weather/wind was so bad during one of our weekends that we had to retire to Trinity Sports Halls after about 40 minutes on the beach and train indoors. Not ideal!

When you hit the sands of Dubai, what was the contrast like?

Tough. Much, much tougher than I had imagined to be perfectly honest. The sand was so fine, and your feet would sink into it with ease. It was energy zapping and slowed down even our fastest players. It took us awhile to acclimatise but I think by day 2-3 we had come to terms with it.

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How did you find Dubai? Good bits? Any parts like a JG Ballard, post modernist scene?

All I can really do is echo Rory. It’s a bizarrely amazing city that’s hard to really make a fitting description of. So Americanised, but you still see the Middle Easten culture there in the background. It just didn’t seem like real life to me, so although I enjoyed my time there, I don’t see a return trip any time soon.

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WCBU the event – highlights for you? Top games played? 

It was by far the biggest tournament I’ve ever experienced. So well organised, and incredibly fun. You can really see the effort put in by Patrick and the volunteers. I think the feeling of walking around during the opening ceremony and getting to soak it all in will stay with me for years to come!

In terms of games, each game was really competitive and despite only getting one win, I’d like to think every team from 5th to 16th was on a similar level, which is incredibly rare to see and really exciting to play. I think our top game was certainly against the winners! We went out against the US with absolutely nothing to lose and the lack of fear gave us a huge boost. Not only to get the chance to play, but to go a break up against a team of pros was just crazy.

I will also say, it’s the most spirited tournament I’ve ever been apart of. The consistent level across all our games was really humbling and so refreshing to experience. Every team seemed to have a great mutual respect for one another and it made each game that bit better.

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Any wins that got away??

India, without a doubt. They beat us fairly handily on Day 3, so when the rematch came together we were gunning for them. For 80% of the match we were playing our best Ultimate and it looked like we had done enough to win. The Indians have really admirable spirit and drive though and somehow managed to grind through three really long points at the end of the game and pipped us on Universe. We were in absolute bits after that, which showed how much we wanted it.

Singapore, you came close in both games, what made the difference?

I think playing them first thing was the worst scenario we could have been met with. We were still pretty raw as a team, and it was our first ever competitive fixture as a full squad. They, however, were extremely well drilled and had that extra bit of pace on the beach. We gave them a better battle on the final day, but due to a number of reasons (fatigue, lack of focus, the Thursday night party) we lacked that spark needed to best them second time round.

You beat Kenya, was that a highlight? They seemed to start tournament well, but run out of steam – was superior fitness a factor?

I was sadly sidelined for the Kenya game due to almost collapsing from the sun prior to our warm up (Maybe that was the key to our win…). But, I was extremely proud of the team for being able grind through the game and take that much deserved win. From watching the Kenyans, I think they struggled as the wind grew as the tournament progressed. They had a lot of really fast and athletic players, but only a small number of them had the disc skills (or perhaps just the confidence) to play in the wind. That was certainly key in our game anyway, and it was a little funny that the horrible Sutton winds actually stood to us.

Anything that you would do differently as an individual and a team?

Hard to say. I have to admit I was slightly intimidated by the occasion so I played a very safe game. I would rather lose yards and dump than turnover trying to throw a score, of course that’s not necessarily a bad thing but in hindsight it would have been nice to have been able to shake the fear of turning over and throw some no-look scoobers…

As a team, I think we had some really effective tactics, but maybe a lack of plan B did hurt us somewhat. I would put that down to a lack of warm-up tournaments available to us, so I genuinely feel we did the best we could in the conditions we were met with.

Which Open teams really impressed you? 

The Philippines were disgustingly adept with the sand, for good reason. And, as I already said, India had a wonderful attitude and infectious positivity throughout the tournament.

What did GB and Philippines excel at in the games you played against?

As I said, the Philippines were at home on the beach. They would run you ragged and leave you chasing shadows. The most difficult game we played without a doubt. GB were mostly Clapham players so they had great team unity that shown through as they made their way to the final.
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Were the USA any good? Why, what can we steal from them to help Irish Ultimate?

In a word, Yes. They didn’t look like they were light years ahead of the other teams, or even ourselves if I’m being a bit bold. They did, however, have the knowledge, ability and determination to best any team they faced, which was how they are now gold medallists in our division.

What can we steal? Well I think we should all probably spend the next year in the gym if we want to emulate the yanks. They also had a fantastic level of spirit that I honestly didn’t expect. To win the division and the SotG award is huge and admirable. Boyler’s dream double!

Open teams at  World Beach have generally tended to have more inexperienced / debutant players for Ireland. Many of those players have then made great leaps and gone on to do great things for Ireland. 

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Question, what do you plan to bring back to the teams you play for in Ireland? 

I’ve already adopted/stolen a few tactics and systems that Boyler brought to the Duboys, as well as plenty of drills. Personally, I think that the weekends of attempting to play in the horrible weather has improved my ability to throw in the wind, which I’m pretty chuffed about. I think the experience garnered from the week at WCBU (or any Worlds tournament for that matter) is impossible to replicate so I’m pretty happy that I wasn’t the only DIT or Hammertime player over there. It’ll only improve our teams!

Anything else I should have asked you / you’d like to add?

Yes! I’d like to publicly thank Boyler for everything he put into the team. It almost looked like there wouldn’t be any interest in sending any sides to WCBU months ago, but Boyler put the team on his back and put in a huge amount of effort to get us over there. The entire campaign, from the trial to the flight home was a brilliant experience for all of us, and one we probably won’t ever shut up about. Sorry guys! #Duboys

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Beach Ultimate, Interview, Ultimate Frisbee, WCBU

WCBU : The Philippines

By @SimonCocking Images by UltiPhotos 

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Is it just a beach sport there, or do you play on grass too?

There are more grass tournaments.  Very few beach tournaments.

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You guys appeared to come out of nowhere at WCBU a few years ago, and really hit the ground flying! Had you been in stealth mode for a while?

First time we joined WCBU in Brazil 2007.  We had no expectations except to see how beach ultimate is being played abroad.  We started winning and made it to the finals.  With just 7 players.

You have a great playing style, fluid, with great hammers and layouts, is beach a natural environment for you guys?

Our team, the Boracay Dragons, are based in the beautiful island called Boracay. Everyone is just comfortable running on sand, hence the speed.  So I guess that’s a big advantage.

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Are you all from one city, or from all over the country? How has that affected training for WCBU?

This year, we are bringing some of the best players in the Philippines.  We had a training camp in Boracay for about a month.  Most of the players stopped there lives from where they are from.  Some took a leave from work/school and some even resigned from work just to be able to join the training.  So this gave us more time to bond, work, train as a team.

Have you noticed other countries adopting different tactics to deal with your offence?

Yes.  Most of them try to take advantage of their height.

What do you hope to achieve at WCBU 2015
?

This is the biggest delegation we are sending for an ultimate event (Open, Mixed, Open Masters and Womens Masters).  We want to play to the best of our abilities.  SOTG is very important and we want to play with great Spirit during the tournament.  We also want to enjoy Dubai, spend time with ultimate friends around the world and make new ones.

Who are you looking forward to playing, why?

All teams in our brackets.  Each team will play differently and it will be a good experience.

Predictions in your categories?

The disc is round, it’s hard to say.  But hopefully it finally goes our way 🙂

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Will we see you at grass 7 aside worlds in London in 2016?

The Philippines is looking forward to London in 2016.

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Beach Ultimate, BULA, Interview, Uganda, Ultimate Frisbee, WCBU

WCBU preview : Team Uganda

By @SimonCocking interview with Team Uganda

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How long has ultimate been going in Uganda? How many people play

Ultimate in Uganda has been going on over 17 years,  estimate about over 60 people play Ultimate in Kampala and another 60 for other clubs around the Country. The game mostly grew in Kampala City, there are two clubs, that’s is to say the Kampala Ultimate Frisbee Club and Makindye Ultimate Frisbee Club however Ultimate is also played in other districts such as Gulu, Masaka, Mbarara(Ishaka) and Fortportal.

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How has it been training over the winter?

Uganda has 2 seasons rainy season and sunny season, we don’t have winter! We train rain or shine 🙂

Because Uganda is a land locked Country, beach spaces/fields are not very big and it’s about 40 km from Capital city so we have been driving every Sunday morning to train on Sunday so that we can get used to sand condition. And we have been very lucky because January and February have been hot (Sunny) months just to give us feel how it might be in Dubai.

How geographically spread out is your team, and how has this affected training?

The team isn’t that much geographically spread out, most people live in Kampala, we only had Beach practice training on Sundays where majority of the team were able, so it has not affected the team very much.

Have you played any warm up tournaments? It must be tough being relatively distant from other teams?

Yes.

We haven’t played any warm up tournaments in preparation for Worlds. However on the Team Uganda, we have been having several scrimmages against players who are not coming to Worlds.

Plus Kampala Ultimate Frisbee club has regular Weekly pickup games, we have been playing just to give us disc related work out.

Where does Beach Ultimate fit in relation to ultimate in general? Do you play mostly on sand or grass or both?

Uganda Ultimate Team is a grass team. We mostly play on grass but we attend the annual Regional Beach Tournament Frisbee East African Sand Tournament (FEAST). FEAST bringing a lot of good Ultimate Teams from East Africa, We have won FEAST 3 times. Because we are mostly a grass team, we organize Beach training once a month to keep us trained for sand conditions and prepare for FEAST.

In 2011 I heard you didn’t make it due to visa issues – it’s great you are able to attend this time – was it easier this time around, more time to prepare for it perhaps?

Yes, that is true we missed going to WCBU2011 because of denied visa and also because Ultimate is not an Olympic sport. The Visa consular asked us to get a letter from Italian Olympic committee talking about the championships in Italy. Only then he could have a look at our visa application. Our visa application was considered on merit which means some players would have been denied visa.

Yes, this time it has been very easy to get all the paper work in play and have processed group visa!

What are you hoping to achieve at WCBU

Mostly gain a lot of experience playing at such a high level of Ultimate, A lot of players on the Uganda team have played Ultimate for a while and are very passionate about the sport.This was really exciting news in general and it going to be great getting to compete at such a level.

Which teams are you looking forward to playing?

Philippines, US, Great Britain and Germany

Predictions for your category?

We to get to Semi finals/Finals 🙂

Where do you hope to finish?

If we are taking about being hopeful here obviously we hope to finish in Finals however we are taking it game by game, playing our best, playing with good spirit of the game, learning as much as we can, gain much needed experience playing at such a competitive level.

What would you like to add / I should have asked you?

We would like to thank the ultimate community around the world who have donated money and support Team Uganda to make it for WCBU2015 in Dubai. We a looking forward to sharing the beach with the world class players and having good time with everyone.

Thanks to Double Happiness who have sponsored our sweet Jerseys and Dubai Ultimate for organizing a tournament.

Team Uganda really happy and very honored to represent Africa.

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Beach Ultimate, BULA, Interview, Ultimate Frisbee, WCBU

WCBU preview week 2: UAE, Netherlands, USA, India & 2 bonus

By @SimonCocking

Chennai Heat draws huge crowds over the weekend

For those that missed any of this weeks preview pieces here they are;

UAE Mixed

Netherlands Mixed

UAE Open

USA Mixed

Team India

Bonus

The first 5 articles  Ireland Mixed, Patrick van der Valk, GB Masters, Ireland Open, Australian Mixed

Frisbee Golf Legend Del Robins

 

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Beach Ultimate, Beaches, BULA, India, Interview, Ultimate Frisbee, WCBU

WCBU preview : Team India

Interview by @SimonCocking with India Captain’s Manu, AP and Abhi

  • Manu Karan (Manu) – Captain – Team India (Open Masters)
  • Arun Pandiyan (AP) – Captain – Team India (Open)
  • Abhinav Vinayakh Shankarnarayanan (Abhi) – Captain – Team India (Mixed)

India (Open) at WCBU 2011 - Photo Five Ultimate

 Ultimate in India! Delighted to see you guys coming to WCBU. When did Indian teams first start managing to travel beyond India to play tournaments?

Abhi – Thank you! We are thrilled to have teams in 3 divisions (Open, Open Masters and Mixed) represent our up and coming community at WCBU 2015.

Manu – Indian teams first started travelling to international tournaments in 2010. Singapore Ultimate Open 2010 (SUO 2009) was the first time players from India put together a team to travel to an international tournament. We have had representation at every major South East Asian regional tournament since.

(Most of the) Mixed Team at a recent practice session

 

Most of the mixed team at a recent practice!

How long did it take to grow ultimate to the point where you were able to have national tournaments?

Manu – Chennai Ultimate Frisbee (CUF) began with less than 10 players in June 2007. Before the end of the year, we found that there were pockets of Ultimate in New Delhi (Northern india) and Ahmedabad (in the state of Gujarat, Western India) and had reached out to them. We had our first ever national tournament in early 2008 hosted by Ahmedabad Ultimate. We had teams from Chennai, New Delhi and Ahmedabad.

Chennai Heat draws huge crowds over the weekend

Meanwhile, unknown to us, there were two other communities of players in India

–  Players in Bangalore, who were actively playing Goaltimate since 2004 and

– Players at a residential school in Kodaikanal. They had hosted mini tournaments before 2008 predominantly catering to school kids and teachers (expats)

We had more than one tournament a year starting in 2008

AP – Starting from 3 tournaments in 2009, Today, we have tournaments around the year. It’s a good selection of a variety of tournaments  – some on grass fields and dirt, fun hat tournaments, beach et al. We are close to the point where its hard to fit in tournaments to our calendar without an overlap!

 Has the sheer size of India been a challenge in terms of getting to play teams from other parts of the country?

Manu – It is a significant challenge,  despite India being extremely well connected by rail and air – By Rail, the farthest tournament from Chennai (which is New Delhi) takes over 2 days! And expensive flight tickets are  out of reach of a vast majority of our players.

To overcome this, we have tournaments spaced through the year (with no real off season). TDs give players visibility of up to 3-6 months to enable them to book their train tickets in advance. Almost all our tournaments are held over a long weekend so players won’t need to take additional days off.

Team India (Open Div) Spirit Award at WCBU 2011_Photo- Alexandr Tikhomirov

 How were the teams picked for WCBU 2015? Are all the players from Chennai?

AP – All the three teams have an excellent mix of players from across India (and Indians living abroad). The teams were picked from a group of players who could meet the required eligibility criteria that included being able to fund themselves for the entire campaign. This is a big jump from 2011 where we had a grand total of 10 players at WCBU!

What are your expectations for WCBU?

Abhi – India has had good representation at tournaments in South East Asia since 2010. Through Patrick’s (BULA) help and guidance we put together a team for WCBU 2011. We were thrilled just to be there and went in with no expectations. We finished with no wins but took home the Spirit Award!

We look forward to showing the world that we can play Spirited Ultimate and bring it to the parties. A notch or two under the wins column would be nice but that is not going to stop us from having fun!

AP – As Abhi mentioned, just the opportunity to play at a tournament of this scale is huge!. Since most of us don’t get to play international ultimate, we rarely get to see what it looks like (videos apart). Playing with the mindset to learn and adapt, will hopefully make us better players. So I’d be speaking for most of us when I say we’re not looking to predict outcomes, just aiming to play to a plan and learn.

It’s great that you have 3 teams appearing. Was any one squad harder to fill than another? 

AP – We have slowly raised the gender ratio at our national tournaments from a loose mixed 5:2 to 4:3. It has been a slow but rewarding process. We had little trouble finding women players!

Manu – Our Open Masters team was the hardest to fill. We are a very young community and many of our players started playing only a few years ago. We really don’t have anyone who has played for 15 years.

Chennai Heat - 7v7 Floodlit beach Ultimate tournament

Is there a distinctive Indian beach ultimate playing style?

AP – BULA certified Chennai Heat, India’s biggest Beach Ultimate Tournament is played 7v7 (mixed) on a full size field (100m X 37m)! So the style of play is quite unique and different from 5v5.

The Chennai Heat tournament itself is pretty unique – Not only do we play hour long, 7v7 games on the beach, playing hours are from 6.30 AM to 10 AM and from 4 PM to 9 PM (under flood lights!). It is just too hot to step onto the sand during the day! The tournament is watched by more than 6000 people over the course of the weekend (It’s on a public beach in India!)

 Which teams are you most looking forward to playing / watching?

Abhi – We look forward to meeting all of the teams and making more friends in the international community. We look forward to seeing how we match up against the ‘developing’ countries.

I love watching the Boracay Dragons (Philippines; Open Div) play. I have many friends on the team so I know the amount of hard work and effort that has gone into their preparation. We have a lot to learn not just from their flashy style of play and athletic performance but also their humility and approachability.

Will we see Indian Ultimate teams appearing at grass based Worlds tournaments anytime soon?

Abhi – India sent two teams to Asian-Oceanic Ultimate Club Championships 2013 (AOUCC 2013). We have a bid to send a mixed team to U23 Worlds at London next year under the leadership of head coach Daniel Rule from Melbourne, Australia.

I think it’s safe to say that we are on track to be the next Philippines (or Colombia, if you like). We are learning to build teams and coach better. Expect to see us more often!

 

 

 

 

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Beach Ultimate, BULA, Interview, Ultimate Frisbee, WCBU

WCBU preview : USA Mixed

Interview by @SimonCocking with Gregory Marliave and An-Chi Tsou from the USA Mixed team.

How has it been training over the winter, on wet? cold? sand for this one?

Northern California has given us a mix of cold and warm beach days. Definitely a fair number of overcast days, even one where it started raining on us just as we finished our workout. That being said, sometimes it is nice to have a cool day for a tough workout.

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How geographically spread out is your team, and how has this affected training?

Our team is pretty spread out. We have a core group of west coasters, a core group of east coasters, and a few floaters in the middle. It generally means we are working out in smaller groups. We only got together one time as a full team (minus 1) at Lei Out. The distance has an impact on overall team reps; but it doesn’t affect individual reps. We also are fortunate enough to have players who have experience together from prior teams, which is a big chemistry boost.

Where does Beach Ultimate fit in relation to the grass based version in the US?

Beach isn’t as formalized as grass, and doesn’t get the season long attention. 2015 will mark the first time we have had a national championship beach ultimate event. What we do have are widely attended single tournaments. Lei Out, for example, had 276 teams this year. We also have Wildwood and sand blast for those from around the country.

With the introduction of the formalized beach championships, this is an exciting time for beach in the US. It is a great opportunity for USAU to develop beach into a great ultimate program, drawing from their experience in grass and internationals organizations.

Is it tough / viable / practical to recruit players from the US pro league for example, or just from top teams in general?

USAU did a great job of broadcasting the beach championship opportunities. That led to a lot of extremely qualified applicants for only a handful of spots.

You guys did well in 2011, how does that affect preparation for 2015?

We only have 3 returners from 2011, so this will be a new experience for most of the team. We were fortunate enough to do well in 2011, but none of that carries over into 2015. It gives us an idea just how competitive the field is, and the challenges ahead of us, but in the end this is a new team that will need to rise to that challenge.

What are you hoping to achieve at WCBU?

We want to represent our country well and play to the best of our ability. We hope to have a high level of spirit for every game, that both our opponents and ourselves enjoy every game we play, and that we make some new friends.

Predictions for your category?

Our prediction is that the mixed division will be the most improved division compared to 2011. We expect a high level of play throughout the week, and a lot of down to the wire finishes.

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Beach Ultimate, Beaches, BULA, Interview, Ultimate Frisbee, WCBU

WCBU preview : Netherlands Mixed

By @SimonCocking

Happy to catch up with Rogier Postma: co-captain of the Dutch mixed team for WCBU.

How has the training been going? 

Really well. We started about a year ago with this team so we could practice and play together a lot. We are very satisfied with our progression as a team and our chemistry is awesome!

Dutch Beach Mixed Ultimate - practice

How geographically spread out is your team? How do you manage meeting up?

Well, The Netherlands is quite small, so that’s  quite easy. Most players live in Amsterdam, Utrecht and Den Haag which are not far apart. Travel time for practice for most team members is under an hour.

Where have you been training? You have beaches, but not too near, were you using them over the winter to train?

We have mostly practiced at the beach of Zandvoort, but because we wanted to be able to practice if the weather was really bad we also found an indoor-beach accommodation. We have practiced there about 6 or 7 times, which was awesome. The field was a bit smaller than the official beach field, but we could work a lot on playing in a small space and run very intense practices. Coolest thing though: we didn’t have to pay for the indoor hall, because they are sponsoring us! After WCBU we’ll give a couple of clinics there, this also helps to make ultimate more known in The Netherlands. We also practiced at a city-beach in Amsterdam.

Have you played any warm up tournaments with the team?

Yes, quite a few since we started so early with preparations. We won our first one in Bibione (Italy), played some open tournaments in which we ended up quite high, won our Open National Beach Championship, ended 9th at CFC Lanzarote and 3rd at MOW (after Portugal, Germany and ahead of Ireland and GB).

What are you hoping to achieve at WCBU?

We hope we can consistently beat the teams we are supposed to beat and win a couple of games against teams we know we can beat, but used to lose to by one or two points. And of course have a lot of fun!

Which teams are you looking forward to playing?

There are many teams in our pool which we never have played before so that’s really cool. I think playing the Philippines and Uganda will be special, but also playing European champions Sweden and of course Canada which will probably have a very strong team.

Have any of you been to Dubai / What do you think it will be like to play there?

No. It will be very warm, so we arrive a couple of days early to acclimatise. It must be cool to play on a beautiful beach with huge skyscrapers behind you.

Predictions

who do you think will contest the final in your category?

Mixed: probably the USA, but the other finalist is hard to predict. Sweden played very well at ECBU, so let’s go with them.

Where do you think / aim / hope to finish? 

It would be very nice if we could make it to the quarter finals. We are seeded 9th, so if everything comes together top 8 could be possible…

What else would you like to add ?

I wish all teams good luck! We are looking forward to play hard and have fun together.

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