02 Oct Ultimate Frisbee: Tossing the spirit of ultimate fun
Published by Meg Magazine
It wasn’t too long ago when Badminton was the craze that was played by young Filipinos. Despite the hype though, everybody knew the mania was just a phase. In a country where basketball is the religion and everything else a passing fancy, it was only a matter of time before the popular indoor racket sport burns out from all the attention it was receiving.
The death of Badminton mania didn’t come as a shocker to anybody, but the hit that was Ultimate Frisbee which came after it did.
The sport that tackled the racket sensation to the ground was after all, identified by many as a game shared with one’s favorite K9. That or it’s an activity reserved for people who simply wishes to pass the time in the park. All in all, Frisbee was discriminated by a lot of sport aficionados who saw it as nothing more than tossing discs with one another…
Until they tried it.
Ultimate Frisbee, like every other sport, has been around for as long as we can remember, perhaps even longer. It’s just that it was never given any attention until now. The sport was popularized in the Philippines by a couple of Expats (foreigners) who made a habit of tossing discs in Fort Bonifacio everyday some years back. People got curious with what they were doing, and soon enough, word got out of the activity until it grew to the organized sport it is today.
Now Ultimate Frisbee has regular play-offs in Quezon City, Makati, Alabang, Boracay and even stretches as far as Cebu and Davao among others.
No flamboyant introduction, there were no advertisements or sponsored play-offs or exhibitions for that matter which could be attributed to the introduction of Ultimate Frisbee.
There was no need.
It was pure and simple enjoyment of the sport that got people hooked enough to spread the word.
Perhaps the charm of Ultimate Frisbee is in its simplicity. You only need a partner, a plastic disc, and a pair of rubber shoes to play the game after all. Most of us are accustomed to fancier sports which require specialized shoes and apparels to play. The simplicity of Ultimate Frisbee was too good to be true to be any fun at all, so most of us thought…
Now we know better of course.
We chanced upon Cannes renowned film maker Mel Lozano as she was enjoying one of the final tournaments of Ultimate Frisbee in Alabang Village last August 16. She was kind enough to spare her in-between game breaks to talk about her favorite sport. Lozano, who was revered for her hit basketball documentary, claims that her love affair with Ultimate Frisbee dates back from five years ago when the sport was hardly on anybody’s lips much less grips. The award winning director and documentarist shares that Ultimate Frisbee has actually been in the country since the 90s but didn’t gain steady footing until late 2003. Since then, the sport has been steadily growing until it reached the high stature it has today.
When asked what she loved best about the sport, Lpzano cited its friendly but very competitive nature as her choice. “Apart from the competitive aspect, iba talaga yung spirit. I mean it’s a big community but everybody still knows everyone.” Eyes brightening up, she stresses that all the players are “all good friends” who “all hang out with each other” even after games.
Sports writer JP Abcede agrees, “Fun competition, this is what makes it ultimate fun.” Abcede also added that this was the only sport wherein a referee is not employed and judging is left for the players themselves. The fact that it is less competitive compared to other sports which relies on serious jurors to conduct is what, he adds, makes Ultimate Frisbee so enjoyable. “May competition, pero dito lang yung we could hear one team cheering for other teams, an opponent cheering for another opponent, lalo pag good play.”
The difference in opinions with regards to the competitive tenacity of the sport between Lozano and Abcede could be attributed to the pool they belong too. Whereas Lozano is already competing both nationally and internationally, Abcede is still just a beginner having been introduced to the game just recently this year. “For other pools, mas mataas ang level of competitiveness unlike pag beginner or developmental pool,” Abcede explains.
Most of us probably think Ultimate Frisbee is easy to play, Lozano begs to differ. “It’s not an easy sport. When they (players) start playing, pawis na pawis sila, even the Soccer players, even the Flag Football players, there’s a lot of sprints and a lot of lateral cuts kasi involved.” Abcede joins her on this one, “Kahit mag toss ka lang ng disc, di ba parang madali? Pero yun palang papawisan ka na.”
Abcede likened Ultimate Frisbee to Rugby and Flag-football, “It’s a little bit of both,” he claims, referring to the non-contact nature of Ultimate Frisbee, but unlike Flag football, the former allows incidental contacts.
Injuries are also rare in Ultimate Frisbee, “It’s a non-contact sport nga kasi” Lozano tells us and adds that aside from the occasional accidental collisions, there’s really nothing much to worry about.
Today the Philippine Ultimate Association for Frisbee (PCA) has over 40 teams actively playing and competing in leagues and tournaments. A major leap in numbers from what used to be only eight teams.
During the interview, Lozano shares her high hopes for the sport, she tells us why it would not be just a passing frenzy like the rest. “I’ve been involved in sports ever since I was a kid but this is the one I really like playing and taking seriously,” she added that Ultimate Frisbee’s popularity was born out of an increasing continuous development over the years unlike most popular sports which just hits the nation in a thunder-like crash, “It’s a steady growth, now were known in the international community as the hot spot in Asia.”
As an athlete who competes in the international scene for Frisbee, Lozano shares that aside from the difference in techniques, (Filipinos employ the Japanese stratagem in playing: faster movements, shorter distanced hocks as compared to the Western preference “na hock lang ng hock,”) it’s pretty much the same with other countries. Her face lit up when she added that she loved competing internationally because it allows her to bond with foreign players, “When we went to Europe, we toured Europe together.”
Lozano encourages everyone to try Ultimate Frisbee “Punta lang sila (interested parties) kung saan may mga leagues, every day there’s play. Sa Sunken Garden (UP), Sa Ateneo, dito sa Alabang (Village).” The Cannes winner and certified Frisbee enthusiast finishes the interview by assuring us that Ultimate Frisbee is without a doubt, worth a try, “If you wanna meet new people, this is it. It’s really a hit na in the Philippines and its still steadily growing.”