Monday, August 22, 2011

Day 0 WCBU 2011 - Ge.tur sports village

I am super excited to be here in the sports village. The atmosphere was super charged with all the teams arriving and checking in. The US contingent is the largest one at WCBU 2011. They have over a 100 athletes competing as 6 teams, one for each division (Open, Mixed, Womens, Open Masters, Mixed Masters, and Open Grand Masters). On the bus from the airport to the sports village, we spoke to Tony (US Open Masters team) who was the one who wrote the article about the Indian team on Skyd magazine last week. Jim Parinella (author of the famous Ultimate Frisbee book) was also on the same bus, but I didn't get to meet him. I hope to meet him in the next few days.
After we'd checked in..we had the grand parade of nations from the village to the Arena, where the showcase match was to take place. It felt AWESOME to wear the team India jersey and carry the Indian flag representing our country amongst 40 other nations.
The showcase match was between Italy Open (the hosts who are seeded 7) and the Philippines Open (seeded #2, current favorites to win). It was interesting to see a girl on the Philippines Open team line-up (though she didn't play any points this particular game). The match was explosive and just watching it in peak 3pm heat sapped us audience. The game ended in upset victory with Italy beating Philippines 12 - 9. This means team India will face the brunt of it, tomorrow morning when we play Philippines.
Oh btw, Team India is seeded #16 and in the same pool as the Philippines, Italy, Ireland, the US, etc. We're one of the 3 first-timer teams in the World Championships and the only new entrant in the Open Division itself. Only Portugal and Curier Island (a non-existent country on whose team random pick-up players not playing on any other national team, can take part) are seeded below us. Team India would be happy if we held seed at the end of the tournament! The level of Ultimate here is incredibly high (way higher than any Indian tournament I've seen)..and fairly so, because the sport is atleast a decade old in all the countries, whereas in India its only 3 or 4 years. We have a lot to learn from the other countries and I already have a few ideas to take back and experiment with in Chennai.
Day 1 games for us, Team Philippines at 11am and Curier Island at 4pm. First one will probably be very one sided. 2nd idea what kind of players have picked-up with the Curier Island team! More tomorrow.

Note on the Indian Team
We had our first team get-together at dinner and introduced ourselves to each other. Apart from the 4 of us from Chennai, the others are all NRIs from Europe, or people of Indian origins living in India (Jaidip) and one foreigner in India (Paul). We could've not put in a true all-Indian team because most people cannot spend Rs. 1 lakh (minimum) on getting to such a tournament in a foreign location. Many players in India don't even own a passport! Yes, we have probably the oldest team in the open division, we probably have a lower skillset than most other teams, we have one of the smallest squad (only 10 players) amongst all teams, and yes, a few of our players are not in the best shape and are carrying minor injuries (I am still recovering from a rotor-cuff injury on my throwing shoulder, and a right ankle ligament tear from the last few months).
But nevertheless it is important we put together a team (some / any team) to get here once. We'd be setting a good precedent and an aspirational target for many many other younger players 4 years from now when the next World Championship Beach Ultimate will take place.

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