Saturday, October 04, 2008

ET Madras Plus Second Article on Chennai Ultimate Frisbee

Yaaaaay! 4 photographs that I shot made it to the front page of the ET Madras Plus supplement! I'm kicked! This was a breath taking half a page article (followed by a contd on page 2). This scanned version does not do justice to the effect it has on the newsprint actually.

Nevertheless.. I'm kicked! This is the second time ET Madras Plus is covering CUF. Thank you Madras Plus!


This bee is buzzing. And has people leaping into the air with excitement. Ultimate Frisbee is here!

Deepti Sivakumar

Come sunrise; the Elliot's beach springs to life with people. There are the aspiring cricketers, the joggers, yoga practitioners, laughter club members, the bluegreen health concoction vendors… Amidst these groups, there is one more. One that has people cheering excitedly. Ultimate Frisbee. As even a quick internet search will tell you, the sport is mostly called Ultimate since frisbee is a trademark brand name for the discs.

Chennai Ultimate Frisbee (CUF) is a group of individuals who are passionate and committed to the cause of turning unsuspecting beachgoers into Ultimate addicts. For the uninitiated, it is a lot like playing rugby or American football as far as the game-objective is concerned. Teams have to score points by passing the disc between its members in the opposing end zone. But unlike rugby or football, Ultimate is a nocontact team sport, which means if you have a broken nose, you can have no grudges.

Though Ultimate's origins can be traced all the way to North America, the sport is gaining popularity in many parts of India too, courtesy the people who fly to the US for education, and expatriates. Ultimate is only about four-years-old in India, but the national teams are already gearing up for one of its biggest tournaments. On November 29 and 30, Chennai will play host to around eleven teams; ten from across India and one from Sri Lanka. "There have been national tournaments before, but participation from ten national teams makes this Ultimate Frisbee's biggest so far," says Narayan Krishnan, one of the founders of CUF.

What's interesting about this game is that even at the international competitions, there are no referees; the game is self-refereed.

Ultimate is a sport that believes in fostering the player's sportsmanship over everything else. That explains the total absence of sledging or heckling on the Ultimate grounds. "We will win because we are better than the other team in skill, speed and stamina; and not because we can cheat, bully, sledge, trip or push them around," explains one of the Ultimate pamphlets. "Sometimes people get too caught up in the competition and they forget the spirit of the game. We're just a bunch of people who have got together for the love of the sport," trails off Manu Karan, CUF's pillar of support.

The CUF members meet four times a week to practise their dives, catches and throws. But besides that, they also teach Ultimate to children from the underprivileged sections of the society. In fact, in cities like Ahmedabad, Ultimate is being adopted by NGOs as a method to inculcate confidence, teamwork and leadership qualities among different communities. As a sport, Ultimate is associated more with the sheer joy of playing more than the "win at all costs" spirit, and the focus is more on team work and camaraderie between the players.

The fitness angle cannot be ignored too. Ultimate goes a long way in giving the players something to look forward to, at the end of the day. "Most of us have full-time jobs; some of us are techies, some business analysts. But the work-home-work rut is a little difficult to break away from, once you get sucked in. Ultimate is my breakaway from the rut, even if it means waking up earlier on the weekends," says Manu. For some, the game is that last push one needs to make or break a habit. Muthuraman, an Ultimate lover, can't wait for the tournament to begin. "Ultimate helps me take my health seriously," he says.

Currently, CUF has around 35 members. "Newbies come over weekends to watch us play and some of them become regulars," says Manu, but he does add that the awareness levels are still low. For a game completely devoid of on-field cursing, Ultimate is surprisingly competitive, and even after the game is over, you can always catch the players practising their catches and throws. What's also unique about Ultimate is that it's unisex. Regardless of your age, sex, height and weight, you can play. Go on, be a part of the frisbee experience!

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Blogger Srini said...

Congrats dude!!

4:54 PM  
Blogger Abhinav Vinayakh Shankar said...

I'm on TV!! LMAO

7:38 AM  

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