Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Day 1 WCBU 2011 - Games begin - disaster strikes

Aaaaaargghhh! Strained my left hip flexor during the first game. The physio examined me after the first game and said that I need to completely rest it and not stretch or load it for a few days. Totally bummed out. After working on the ankle and shoulder for the last so many days and making sure they don't trouble me, something else pops. Indication of how critical overall fitness is, to such a strenuous game. Trying not to load my right ankle, I think I must've over loaded my left leg. I'm reduced to being a side-line captain/support, and team correspondence. Sigh. Annoying!

We lost both our games on day 1. First match against the Philippines (13-3), and the second game against Curier islands (13-5). Both games were no contest and hard on our players in the sapping heat, with very few subs. We could've done better in the 2nd game, where we had a few unnecessary turnovers near the end-zone. Maybe a 13-9 or so could've been managed in those games. The first game had Abhi scoring to Amberish twice (hammer and forehand), Jaidip to Ed. Second game Paul had a super huck to Abhi, Abhi had a sweet break mark forehand huck to Chetan, Girish had 2 scores and Chetan had one more.

We watched a few good games, but the best one we watched on day 1 was the Italy vs. Belgium open category game. We thought it would be a bo contest win for Italy, but wow..Belgium really stepped it up. Belgium led most of the way till it was tied at 11 - 11 and time ran out (games are 45 min or 13points whichever comes first). So a last point eas played with Belgium on offense. But Italy's defense put some amazing pressure on Belgium and caused a turnover..and went on to win the game. What a match it was. Nail biting finish. Some of the most amazing layout scores and bids were in this match. Incredible.

Tomorrow we face Belgium in the morning and the US in the evening. Also we're looking forward to the showcase match of the day tomorrow between the Canada and US in the open masters category. These are all the who's who of Sockeye, Jam, Furious, Sub Zero, etc.who have now moved into the Masters category (between ages 32 and 39)

Some observations from this tournament in general..
1) It's frigging hot, we had to all buy and wear sand socks to step onto the sand past 11am. It was like starting to play at 1pm on the Chennai beaches.
2) Every team we observed play, had 3 lines of players. Which meant that every player played only once in 3 points, and hence they were super fresh when they got back to the line. A little chat with the other teams revealed that that's how most competitive line-ups play. So that they can keep the same intensity up point after point. In comparison, team India had only a 10 man squad (now only 9), which meant that every person had typically a 50 second break before going out there and sprinting hard for another 50 seconds (average time for every point). Comparing this to a 200 meter dash which is typically completed in 30 seconds, that's a LOT of sprinting on the beach! And imagine doing this every alternate min for 40 min. Gave me a little insight into why my team seemed gassed out all the time.
3) The sand is so much softer and hence harder to run
4) All teams played a 3:2 or 2:3 ho-stack. No vert stack what so ever. Vert stack doesn't really work in a small 5 vs 5 field. As a team, we aren't as comfortable playing a ho-stack.
5) The level of the games here are definitely MUCH higher than the games I've watched in Singapore, Malaysia and Philippines. So its safe to say that US, Canada, Japan levels > Europe levels > Philippines, Singapore, Australia levels >>> Malaysia, India levels. Being the best in India means nothing yet.
6) On the better teams, there were no specific handlers or cutters. Everyone could do everything. This was the single biggest difference between the top teams and the rest. Everyone had the same level of stamina and speed otherwise!
7) We were by far the heaviest team in the open division and also the second shortest team I would say. Not that those are any indication of game levels, but this was just a general observation. The Philippinos were shorter but well built, but not an inch of fat from what I observed. All those are only "looking good" factors. Though, the fat content has some correlation to speed and stamina, I noticed some heavy built or big made people on other teams move super fast and not be out of breath. Only thing that matters is stamina and speed, and that's one of the areas the next Indian contingent will have to focus on. If it so happens that this 'causes a 6 pack, so be it.
8) Universally, everyone is surprised that India put up a team that plays proper ultimate, and are very supportive of it and welcome it. One of the captains said it beautifully when he said "I never thought I'd ever get to say this in my Ultimate carrier, but Well played India". Steve and Tom Styles from Blockstack TV (one of the primary ultimate frisbee networks in Europe) spoke to us and asked us about India Ultimate, and Beach Ultimate in India. Everyone is very excited that India is finally onboard the ultimate community!

On a comical note, Mama (in his new avataar of 7kgs less + starting to show a 6 pack) says that his P90 program is of no use anymore. He should plan Program Rebirth :-P.

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