Beach Ultimate, BULA, Burrow Beach, Interview, Rory Kavanagh, Ultimate Frisbee

WCBU : review of the Mixed division with Ireland’s Rory Kavanagh

By @SimonCocking

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Well done, great week what were your highlights?

Thanks Simon, we’re pretty happy with how the week went in general. My highlights were third day of competition, we knew we had 3 potential knock out games against three strong teams to finish the group and we smashed it. The Portugal game is also probably a bit of a highlight, the result was tough to take but the fight back the team showed and the emotions during that game were something else. The experience of staying in a 90th floor penthouse walking distance from the fields with the team is something that will be hard to forget.

In 2013 you had a surprise loss in the 1st round, this time around Portugal not exactly a ‘shock’ as they are a good team, but anything you would have done differently in that game or any of the others?

The loss to Poland in 2013 was the best thing that happened to us at that tournament. We entered off the back of a strong preparatory season and were probably somewhat complacent going into that game. Poland went up 5-1 by being more intense than us. They hit us like a freight train and by the time we recovered it was too late to take the game back. The lesson we took was that we need to start every game at 100% and try to do what Poland had done to us.

The context in Dubai was very different, we were the higher seeds in the group, but our preparation and team pitch time coming into this tournament was very different from 2013. We had seen Portugal playing in Lisbon and knew they were on form and had a deeper squad than in 2013. The way we started the game was a bit of a shock, but a close final score was to be expected.

For this game I think we were a little bit preoccupied with our opponents. We knew they had a couple of superstar players and what they liked to do. We focused too much on our opponents and less on ourselves so that we ended up starting with some nerves and unforced errors instead on being intense and hitting the field with confidence.

Was it tougher playing so early in the season, with less prep time?

The timing certainly provided some challenges. Having major tournaments in late summer gives you a good 9 months to prepare, and all the regular top competitions are at your disposal to get playing time together. In 2013 our objective was to make the most cohesive team possible by playing 3 tournaments (25+ competitive games together before the actual championships).

This time around due to the short preparation time and high cost of the tournament we had to get the team on the same page before the championships without raising the cost or commitment to a level that excluded the top quality players.

We had no trial, a couple of training days in Sutton and the majority of the squad made it to a warm up tournament in Lisbon. The first time the entire squad of 17 played together was our friendly against Australia the day before the tournament, not ideal.

Did playing in Dubai make any difference or much the same as in Europe?

In terms of playing, organization the tournament was delivered with the same quality and professionalism as ECBU or any of the best European tournaments. The only differences were off the field, the context for the tournament was so different to Europe. None of us had been to Dubai before so we spent the first couple of days craning our necks at the buildings and taking in the mix of culture Dubai has to offer. The heat was a challenge with a couple of players suffering during the tournament but it wasn’t as bad as Worlds in Italy in 2011.

You had some turnover from 2013 team, about 1/3rd maybe? Did that affect things, or not?

We only had 6 returning players from the 2013 squad, only one of which was female. However the vision was very much a continuation from the 2013 experience. The basic plan of playing to the strength of our women on O and a mixed bag of strategies and lots of intensity on D. We lost some of Ireland’s most experienced women, many of whom have since retired but the talent that stepped up in their place was equally impressive.

The average age of the team dropped dramatically. Also the clubs where the players came from were a lot more diverse than previous times. The youth and broad range of backgrounds and skills changed some minor parts of these plans. For example we played a lot of Zone in 2013, what we learned early in the season was we were a lot stronger on man D so we focused on that. On O our girls were moving the disc up-field a lot more and throwing and scoring the goals between themselves as opposed the male thrower to female receiver trend of 2013.

7th is pretty awesome, especially in terms of getting out of the first pool. Do you think it could have turned out any different by avoiding the loss to Portugal?

We never set expectations or goals before the tournament. We wanted to go out and execute our game plan and see how far that would take us with the limited preparation time. USA, Portugal, Russia, Japan, Australia and Switzerland are big names and our high seeding put a target on our backs. We started the Portugal game nervous and we paid for that. Having said that there were no “Easy” quarter finals. The top 4 of the other pool was just as scary. Beating Portugal would have given us the Philippines instead of Canada. It’s hard to tell what that match up would have been like.

Personally I was very happy to make it to the quarters but frustrated that we didn’t have a stronger performance against the North Americans.

Germany World champs, did you predict that one? Glad a European team did it, any sense it could have been you guys, or were they a stronger unit than the 2013 version?

I don’t think any of us predicted that one at the start of the week. I’m delighted for them they played an unreal game in the final and thoroughly deserved the victory. I think we would consider Germany, as well as Portugal and Sweden to be our peers in Europe, and seeing one of your peers win world’s obviously makes you imagine yourself there. In 2013 we played the Germans at Paganello (and won quite convincingly) but the Dubai German Team was light years ahead of the team we played then.

With the team and preparation we had this time I don’t think it we could have been there instead of Germany. Ireland are still a long way off but it’s not beyond the realm of possibility for a future Irish team with the right preparation to take down a North American team.

Canada seemed to improve across the week, across several divisions, finding their sand legs perhaps? Do you think a European team could have taken down the US too?

I’m not certain but I believe the Canadians were from across the whole country so I imagine preparation as a team before hand must have been near impossible. They certainly had talent so I’d imagine it was the team gelling with every game they played. They also managed to get their semi against the US on the very windy day which I think equalised things a little bit.

Having played both the US and Canada I have to say I was much more impressed with the US strength and depth compared to the Canadians. The US defence was completely smothering and their O was clinical whereas with the Canadians we felt more room to manoeuvre and a closer contest.

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What’s next for Irish beach? 

Worlds will be back in two years. They’re changing the rotation so that it doesn’t clash with other international events. Location is TBC. I think lots of us would be up for giving it another bash in the mixed division.

Domestically, this year on Sept 18/19th we’ll have the first All Ireland Beach Championships which is being pushed by Irish Beach Ultimate. The idea is to get an event in the calendar and see some domestic beach take off the same way indoors has grown in recent years. The ideal situation is that by 2017 a lot more players will be playing and interested in Beach ultimate so we can send more teams with more depth.

And you, do you now look at grass again?

Warming up for my first grass practice after Dubai felt very strange. I still play grass and still love it, but beach has taken over as my number one. I will even be putting my body through a week long grass tournament this summer at EUC in Copenhagen playing with Spain mixed.

Being Spain based, why do Spanish teams not make it to worlds as often as other nations? 

The short answer is money. Spain had a team in every division at Euros which was in Spain, however for Dubai there were no projects put together. There was some interest but the cost of the tournament and the timing made it hard to get sufficient numbers. Instead in 2015 there’s a lot more focus on EUC. Spain are sending teams to 5 Divisions in Copenhagen.

What is the depth / strength of Spanish ultimate relevant to Ireland, or even Portugal?

I think the Spanish and Irish communities are very different. I would say Irish Ultimate is much more organized and growing faster. The university and schools / juniors set up in Ireland means that every year there are more and more players being trained by better and better coaches. In Spain there are no university clubs, and while school programs have really taken off in the last year (especially in Catalunya) the results of this work wont be seen for a while. Player growth in Spain is competitively slow.

Ireland has also benefited from being so close to the UK. Being able to travel to Tour every year is a great and inexpensive opportunity for Irish Teams to learn that you just can’t replicate here.

In terms of the quality of players there are some great teams here. Corocotta from Santander, Quijotes from Madrid and Mubidisk from Lanzarote are the three that dominate domestically and have put in some quality performances at European / Worlds level. One big difference is that with most Spanish teams the average age of players is a lot older than in Ireland. Because there is less organic growth in the community most clubs best players are over 30 and have been playing since their club was founded. This is exemplified by Spain having an Open Masters and Women’s Masters team at EUC.

I’m less familiar with Portugal. I know they have strong clubs like Bufa who play the big Beach tournaments in Europe helped along by some strong foreign players but domestically as far as I’m aware their club scene is growing but wouldn’t have the depth that Ireland and Spain have. I would liken them to Ireland Open in 2007, where the community was of a size that allowed a couple of very strong players to build a team that played and trained together to the point that the team was stronger than the sum of it’s parts.

How was Dubai in general?

Dubai was really strange. We stayed in an Airbnb penthouse apartment on the 90th floor of the Princess Tower. (The tallest residential building in the world) It was 15 minutes away from the fields with spectacular views of the marina and Palm Jumeirah. The jacuzzis on the 5th floor were put to use nightly. It’s a really strange mix of everything, cultures from all over the world, western consumerism and outlandishness expensive displays of wealth, because ‘why not?’ I don’t see myself going back there any time soon but I’m happy I got to experience it even for a little while.

Are you done with beach, or already looking at next WCBU, in 2017?

Definitely not done with beach. Word on the street is that the next worlds is in 2017. I’d very much like to be a part of that project in whatever way I can and I know Sam and some of the team are already into it. Here’s hoping it’s somewhere in Europe.

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

Our kit was sponsored by an Irish company, Nurse Jobs Ireland https://www.nursejobsireland.com/ so a big thank you to them.

I’d also like to thank the community for the support they showed us and the open team during the tournament. The messages of support are really touching and mean a lot.

See more from their blog here and their twitter @irlmixedbeach

 

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Africa, Beach Ultimate, Beaches, Declan Moore, Del Robins, India, Interview, Irish Ultimate, Philippines, Tadhg Healy, Uganda, Ultimate Frisbee, USA

March : Latest Ultimate articles including WCBU teams

By @SimonCocking

Chennai Heat - 7v7 Floodlit beach Ultimate tournament

It’s been a busy month since the last round up post.WCBU produced some great matches, many of which can still be viewed via Skyd and their youtube chanel

Surprisingly perhaps many of the articles on the newer ultimate nations, Philippines, Uganda, and India were viewed as much as the pieces on Team USA, as well as our own Irish teams.

Also some great in depth interviews with some longtime quality players;

Tadhg Healy, Irish Captain, Cork innovator

Declan Moore, Australian and (briefly) Irish Captain, [Irish Ultimate’s Roy Keane!]

Del Robins, GB Ultimate player and #1 UK disc golf player for 22 years straight

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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, Beaches, BULA, Interview, Ultimate Frisbee

WCBU preview : UAE Open

By @SimonCocking

Interview with Alex Niswander, UAE Open Team co-Captain @UAEUltimate.

How long has there been ultimate in UAE?

There has been ultimate in the UAE for quite a few years. I’m not sure of the specific count since I’ve only been living here for a short time. However, we have some people who have played here for at least six years, so there is a fair amount of continuity and longevity.

AdnaMuliawan-Captain(Open)

Adna Muliawan Co-captain

How many locals / expats play?

We have quite a few expats, as Abu Dhabi and Dubai are fairly international places. We have some locals playing and we are always looking to add more people to the scene here, especially those that are here full time.

How many teams, and is it just in one city or further afield?

In Abu Dhabi we have a weekly pickup game. In Dubai there are quite a few leagues and groups that play regularly since the player base is much larger. We regularly get together at tournaments to play against each other, and there occasionally is pickup (beach pickup!) that is attended by folks from both Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

TravisBrownlee(Open)

How would you describe your playing style? How much experience does the team have?

I play like a combination of a hockey player and a T-Rex. I tend to push off like I’m skating and I run around with my arms in a funny position in front of me. Our team has been playing together for the last six months, but subsets of us have been playing together for up to five years. Most of our experience is inside of the UAE, but we do have some folks who travel regularly to international tournaments. As a team we have not been to a non-UAE tournament – we are looking forward to playing against the best in the world in Dubai at WCBU!

Do you get to play against many other teams from neighbouring countries?

We do! We’ve gotten a chance to play at a tournament in Oman against our Omani friends, and on occasion we’ve played with some Saudi and Bahraini folks at hat tournaments in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. It’s not a usual occurrence, but it happens every once in a while and helps keep our tournaments interesting.

WCBU, you must be pleased you don’t have to travel too far?

This is fantastic! It’s my first worlds, and it will never be more convenient. An hour’s drive from the beautiful Dubai beach is more than we can ask for.

DanNagel(Open)

What are you hoping to achieve at WCBU?

Our plan is to hold seed (and potentially break it, if we can manage it) :). We also want to have a great time and get to know some people on the other teams.

Who are you looking forward to playing, why?

We have a game against Kenya on the showcase field on the second day of the tournament. It hopefully will be televised, and my folks back in the states will have a chance to watch it. It’s also a game that we feel we can contend in, and we are excited to go out there and play as hard as we can!

Predictions for your divisions?

I want to see a USA v Philippines final. I think that would be a fitting game to end on – the Filipinos are so fast on the beach and the Americans have so many superstars. It’ll be nice to relax in the stands and watch some world-class athletes play some amazing ultimate.

Grass vs sand? Do you have any grass to play on?

I like both surfaces, but I prefer grass. The ability to jump a non-negligible height is something that I miss when playing on sand. However, I do like sand because laying out is so forgiving and when you are sandy you can just go wash yourself in the ocean. The bottom line is that I’ll play ultimate on anything, as long as it is relatively flat.

Will we see UAE teams at future grass worlds like London 2016?

Absolutely! I think our push for worlds this year (and the fact that we have submitted four teams – Grandmasters, Mixed, Open, and Women’s) will be something that will continue on, once people have realized how awesome it is. I anticipate that we’ll have enough interest to send at least one solid squad to London in 2016.

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

Beach worlds is going to be awesome! Come by and chat with any of the UAE teams if you are in the vicinity – we know all the best things to do in the UAE and can help you get what you need.

See UAE Mixed team interview here.

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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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Beach Ultimate, Beaches, WCBU

WCBU preview : UAE Mixed

By @SimonCocking

Interview with Craig Anderson UAE Mixed co-captain 

CraigAnderson-CaptainJestoniBarte(Mixed)

Craig in action, beautifully timed flick and camels

How long has there been ultimate in UAE?

I’m honestly not too sure as I have been here just over 4 years, but it can’t have been much longer than that. The improvement in the community during that time has been outstanding with regards to numbers and quality of play.

JenThomas(Mixed)Boracay

How many locals / expats play?

Locals you could find maybe 2 or 3, almost everyone else in the community is an expat. The local organization, United Arabian Ultimate, is hoping the event will attract more locals to participate in the sport.

How many teams, and is it just in one city or further afield?

The teams chop and change a bit, particularly with Worlds being announced, but Dubai has around 3 fully-established teams and Abu Dhabi has one as well. When it comes to local tournaments you get between 5 to 8 teams playing.

Day 2. Boracay Open Beach. Jan 2015

How would you describe your playing style? How much experience does the team have?

I co-captain the mixed team and the initial challenge was that everybody has a different opinion on how we should play, but I’m glad to say we seem to be over that. We sent a team to Boracay Open this past January and we definitely came back with the Filipino mentality of short, quick give & gos will work well for us on the sand. Our experience varies a lot because we are still a developing ultimate community.

Do you get to play against many other teams from neighbouring countries?

Occasionally we would see a team from Saudi or Qatar visit for a tournament but not really to be honest. It will be a fantastic experience for the community here to all be on the same side and supporting each other for once!

WCBU, you must be pleased you don’t have to travel too far?

It’s a huge benefit for us. We know the beach, our costs are next to nothing and we have the best players available to us. Everyone is really excited for playing the tournament, but there is also a real buzz to show everyone the city and try to make WCBU2015 the best beach tournament there has ever been.

What are you hoping to achieve at WCBU?

Performance wise it’s a little difficult to say, you never really know how good the opposition will be. We just have to take it one point at a time and do our best.

Who are you looking forward to playing, why?

To be honest, everybody! Personally I am actually looking forward to our first game against Ireland. I played in Brazil in WCBU2007 for Scotland, and Ireland beat us by a few points. It’ll be interesting to see how they make the transition with the climate – but knowing their former captain and some previous Irish players, I am certain they will be a very good side. The first game of the tournament will really set the tone for us.

Predictions for your divisions?

In WCBU2007 our second day was USA in the morning and Canada in the afternoon, I woke up in the worst mood ever because we knew we would get beat badly. USA beat us 13-1, but as it turned out Canada were a weak side and we beat them significantly – hence I don’t make predictions at this level!

Grass vs sand? Do you have any grass to play on?

A lot of our players in the UAE are teachers, so we often get grass fields from schools. I actually prefer playing on grass, but our squad practices on both. Making the move from 5v5 to 7v7 has been very difficult for us. I am happy to say though that the beach training have been going a lot better than the grass training, so we’ve stopped the grass sessions now.

Will we see UAE teams at future grass worlds like London 2016?

We are gaining a global presence at international tournaments like Paganello and Boracay Open, normally on beach though. Grass tends to be higher standard with larger squads. We are definitely moving towards that but I think it will take some time. So many of our players are teachers so it probably depends on school holidays.

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

I would like to give a big thanks to the local organising committee and the team Captains. They have all been doing a fantastic job. If you had any idea how much work has gone into organising this tournament over the past 14 months by the LOC you’d be amazed. They have secured some of the city’s best nightlife spots for the parties, free WiFi at the pitches, the backing of the Dubai Sports Council, nice hotels for players to stay in, live-streaming of games on national TV, etc. This tournament is going to raise the standard of international ultimate events.

The team captains have been outstanding as well, I haven’t seen much of the Open team practice but they have a strong squad who I am sure will do very well with Alex & Adna. We often train next to the Women’s squad and to see them become so well-drilled and playing with such intensity is a bit bizarre because it seemed to happen overnight after Amie & XT got put in charge – they are going to cause some major upsets if they play as they have been. Matt, my co-captain for the Mixed squad, has been awesome as always.

See the UAE Open Team interview here.

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