Ultimate Frisbee in Doha
There’s a new sport in town - and it’s catching on... Discuss this article
When one thinks of a sport with ‘ultimate’ in the title, they may be inclined to think of a cage-like battleground. However, there is a less-contact sport making its way into the mainstream that is known for its gentlemanly conduct—a spirit that players are proud of.
Ultimate, formerly known as Ultimate Frisbee, has made its way to Doha and there are no signs of it going away anytime soon. Thanks to Ben Figgis and Eddie Bywater, two enthusiasts that have played for over a decade, there is another way to enjoy Doha outdoors.
Ultimate is a sport that keeps you running so you get a good workout, but is also accessible to everyone. Unlike other organized sports, this one isn’t heavily dependent on your stature. When I watched the game there were players of all sizes, which was great for me as an interested participant. Basically, regardless of height (I’m only 156cm) and physical aptitude (I’m really good at thumb wars), all are welcome just as long as you have running shorts, comfortable shoes plus one light and one dark t-shirt.
Figgis started a small game of pick-up when he arrived eight-and-a-half years ago, however, it wasn’t until Bywater secured a time slot at The American School of Doha that they were able to see their numbers go up. Now, players can count on a weekly friendly match on a well-manicured football pitch rounded out with stadium lights and even spectator seats if you can get a fan club to attend.
Ultimate is a great non-contact sport that above all values fair play and respect. According to the Ultimate Rules on their official website, this is a sport known for “Spirit of the Game” or SOTG. Figgis explains that at tournaments, it’s all about sportsmanship.
‘At the end of every game, both teams vote on the other’s sportsmanship, the spirit score,’ he says. ‘If there is a tie later in the tournament, whichever team has the better spirit score goes through.”
The rules are pretty simple. Figgis likens the game to American Football—because there are end zones that you need to score in; mixed with Netball—once you have the ball you can only pivot.
Although the rules are easy to understand, there is one noticeable person missing—the referee—as Ultimate it is a self-officiating game. Preserving the theme of sportsmanship, the World Flying Disk Federation states, “As Ultimate is a self-refereed sport, maintaining spirit of the game is essential to making the game work.”
Qatar isn’t the only place in the desert enjoying the competition, as what were once pick-up games have now turned into regional competitions. The Middle East has seen enough interest in the participants in the sport that there are now annual tournaments. For example, on December 7th, Abu Dhabi is having a Hat Tournament, where individuals put their names in a hat and teams are determined by the names drawn. If you prefer playing with your normal team, then head to Dubai on February 22nd next year with your team.
If the chance to play a laidback, yet competitive game with a group of friendly people isn’t enough, then there is one more incentive….free frisbees! Figgis believes in this sport so much that his company, Chevron, donated 100 frisbees to the first 100 new players to join. Well, make that 99….I’ll be there.
Ultimate takes the field every Monday Night at the American School of Doha football pitch (enter through Gate 8). Stretching and warm up starts at 7.30pm, with games going from 8pm-9.30pm. Join the Qatar Ultimate forum for more information at https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en&fromgroups#!forum/Qatar-Ultimate
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