If you’ve always thought that ball sports were too mainstream, then trading that ball for a flying disc might just be the perfect thing for you. Move over, basketball. Ultimate Frisbee is steadily growing more and more popular in the country today—because isn’t badminton or bowling too last season?
Where it all began
Who would have thought that when American toy company Wham-O popularized the Frisbee Disc in the 50s, it would spawn a myriad of followers and create a whole new sport of its own? And it’s not just about throwing and catching—Frisbee enthusiasts all around the globe will tell you that it’s so much more. If you’re looking to increase your stamina, enhance your agility, and improve your cardiovascular endurance—not to mention develop your body coordination—then this sport is all you’ll ever need. With Frisbee’s ability to help you burn a hundred up to seven hundred calories with just thirty minutes of playing, what more can you ask for?
Since Ultimate Frisbee began in the country in the early 2000, the sport has grown into more than 200 different clubs that are actively spreading the joy of the disc all over the archipelago. Whether you’re a university student letting off steam on the field or a young professional looking for a hobby, the game can and will get you hooked. People from all walks of life—even athletes and certain celebs—have sworn to the awesomeness of the game, and the Philippine Flying Disc Association (PFDA) is here to make sure that it stays that way.
“Quite an achievement for such a very simple game that just involves a 175gm plastic disc, don’t you think?” says Coach Towie V of the Philippine Flying Disc Association. “Simply put, I believe that’s one of the most attractive qualities of the sport—that it’s just really fairly easy to play. All you need is a disc and other willing bodies to play with you.”
How it’s played
“Granted [that] playing fields (especially here in the metro) aren’t as easy to come by as compared to, say, the provinces. But that’s how it all begins—with first the curiosity of how exactly to throw and catch the disc,” Coach Towie says. “More fields equal more coaches, [which means] more willing students [and] would-be players. You simply find an open space that’s hopefully wide enough for you learn. Then, once you discover that there’s an actual game aside from just throw-and-catch, you next learn the rules and voilà! Before you know it, you’re purchasing cleats, hats, sleeves, more playing jerseys and shorts—and you are hooked!”
A non-contact sport, Ultimate Frisbee has two seven-man teams (one team defending while the other trying to score) passing the Frisbee around team members across a field. Once a member of the offensive team reaches the opposite end zone, a goal is scored—unless the defensive team intercepts. Basically, the game is all about mutual respect, fair play, and sportsmanship.
“There are actual leagues and tourneys (New Year, Summer, Malakas-Maganda, Monsoon, etc.). Then there are smaller and fun ‘hat tournaments’ (so named because originally, names of your teammates will only be known to you on the day itself, drawn out of a hat),” says Coach Towie. There are also beach tourneys where lines are smaller, meaning that the field is 7-on-7 while the beach is just 4-on-4. And finally, there are the provincial tourneys, namely, Shindig for Dumaguete, Dabba-Dabba for Davao, Cabalen Open for Pampanga, and Ceboom for Cebu.
“Ultimate ‘season’ is actually all year round. It’s a rain-or-shine sport, much like football [and] soccer is—as long as the venue and organizers allow it,” he continues. “Excessive winds, flooding, thunder, and lightning are among the only real hazards to watch out for. Other than that, hey, the show goes on!”
The bright future ahead
“Since ‘organized Ulitmate’ began in the country (2002-2003), our Philippine Teams have now come a long way in terms of putting our flag on the international Ultimate map. Gone are those days when our teams were just considered ‘cellar-dwellers’ and took a drubbing from other international teams,” recalls Coach Towie. “The Boracay Dragons in particular have been solid rock stars on sand, landing back-to-back silver medal finishes in 2007 (Brazil) & 2011 (Italy) editions of WCBU (World Championships of Beach Ultimate—held every four years) and a strong 3rd (Dubai) in this year’s edition.” In other editions, the country has placed 16th in Open divisions and 7th in Mixed. “I’d say we’re slowly but surely working our way up the world ranks,” he says.
With all these testaments to Ultimate Frisbee’s greatness, what’s an interested newbie got to lose? “Having handled the Philippine Flying Disc Association (PFDA) Beginner’s Clinic since 2004, [I’d say] the teaching and coaching methods have vastly improved, with the advent of present technology and available resources online. Experts of the game [are also] coming over to share their knowledge of the game with us. It is only an individual’s willingness and availability that actually really matters,” says Coach Towie. His message? For anyone and everyone to just go right ahead and give the game a shot.
So for anyone who’s always wanted to feel ultimate but didn’t really know how, just sign up at The Meralco Fitness Center Football/Softball Field in Ortigas, Pasig to join the “PUA Beg Nite Sessions” (https://www.facebook.com/groups/puabegnite/) happening Monday nights every week from 7:30pm onwards. You can call up the Meralco Sports Office at 632-82-78 and look for Ms. Marlene for more information or to confirm about cancellations during extreme weather conditions. Bring all your friends to join in on the fun, because after all, what’s Php100 per head in exchange for a rousing good time?
Upcoming events include:
- WEDNESDAY, NOV. 11: ERIC/US All-Stars vs. Team Pilipinas, 8pm to 12am at the Alonte Sports Stadium in Biñan, Laguna
- FRIDAY, NOV. 13: ERIC/US All-Stars vs. Japan Buzz Bullets (Club Jr. All-Stars), 8pm to 12am at the Emperador Stadium in One McKinley Hill, Taguig
Entrance is free for all Manila Spirits 2015 registered participants, and Php200 for non-registered players on a first-come-first-served basis. Buses will be rented for both games with different meet-up points to shuttle players to and from the venues, especially for visiting foreign and provincial players. Is there really even any reason not to sign up? “It is life-changing,” says Coach Towie, “And there is a damn good reason why it’s called ‘Ultimate’.”
* Photos used with permission from the photographers.
Cathy Dellosa Lo is a freelance writer by day and a geek by night. She constantly struggles between sniffing the novels lined up in her bookshelf and trying to whip up something unusual in the kitchen, much to the dismay of her loving husband. To this day, she still has not cooked a decent meal. She one day hopes to soar the skies as a superhero for her future children, but for now, she strongly believes in saving lives through her works in fiction. She also maintains a personal blog on her rookie misadventures as a noob wife at http://quirkylifeofthenoobwife.blogspot.com/