Tournament Practice!

The Uruguayan ultimate team will be playing in a big tournament in Buenos Aires, Argentina April 5-8. We have been helping them prepare by teaching them the fundamentals of the sport along with strategy and plays.

The team normally has practice on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday afternoons. Attendance on Tuesday and Thursday is usually scant because people have school and work commitments in the afternoon. Saturday is advertised as a “come one, come all” and learn about the sport of ultimate day. Amazingly, there is usually one or two people every Saturday that are new to the sport. Kids show up to learn as well as teachers, making ultimate an all-inclusive and enjoyable sports experience.

As the teams’ goal is to win some games and do well at the tournament, we as “coaches” suggested that we have a team practice on Sunday afternoon for all the people that will actually be playing at the tournament. We felt that it was important so that the team could learn how to play with each other, and it would be a good opportunity for learning tournament-specific information (like plays).

So last Sunday (March 18) we had our first practice as a team! Carlos was able to secure some nice fields for us to play on at the local military school/base. The fields were nicer than many of the fields in the United States that are used for practice and tournaments. Nice fields go a long way to running hard, laying out, and feeling like a team!

The practice was wonderful! Everyone was focused and eager to learn. We practiced movement and timing of the cuts from a vertical stack, cup movement for zone defense, and reading the disc in the air. It was really productive and everyone had a great time!

Juanma (Carlos' brother and fellow captain) reviewing zone defense for the team.

Chandro throwing upfield.

We had another practice this past sunday (March 25) to work on plays on the field and in the end zone.

We are super excited about the tournament in a couple weeks! There is no doubt about the potential of this team. They have improved immensely since we arrived and have transformed into a competitive ultimate team. There is also no doubt that when we leave they will continue to improve and grow the sport of ultimate here in Uruguay!

The “Ultimate” Opportunity!

Part of every great adventure is meeting awesome new people and this adventure is no exception. As most of you probably already know, the three of us are very involved in the ultimate frisbee community in the United States. We have all played on top tier teams and participate in local leagues and activities. When we decided we were coming to Uruguay, one of the first questions we had was “Do they have an ultimate team?” None of us could imagine 6 months without the sport and community that we love. Luckily, Matt did some research and found the Uruguay national team (the one and only team) and found Carlos.

Carlos heard of ultimate frisbee 3 years ago and has built a team of about 30 people that compete in 1 or 2 tournaments each year and even put on their own hats tournament last year. Carlos has negotiated field space for the Ultimate team to practice on three times a week and organizes community events to teach children how to play ultimate. He even has a small supply of fliers (with him at all times) describing the 10 steps to playing ultimate that he can give to people that are interested. Everyone that we have met on the team has been so welcoming and helpful.

Carlos has picked us up at our house and taken us to practice, which is good because we probably would never have figured out how to take the bus on our own. Carlos and his brother also helped Matt organize his weekend trip to a beach ultimate tournament in Argentina. Everyone has been awesome in suggesting things to do in the city and describing things about the city that would never have occurred to us. Just like any other ultimate community that we have been a part of, I have no doubt that the team will quickly become a home away from home and we’d like to help them in any way that we can!

We are starting to help them achieve their goal of becoming a competitive team (they’ve never won a game as a team) by teaching them as much as we can and helping lead practices. We have already seen improvement in the couple weeks we’ve been here.

Unfortunately they don’t have all the opportunities that a team from the U.S. might have. There are no local (i.e. anywhere in the country) ultimate frisbee companies that can provide discs or jerseys for this team. Uruguay, as a country, does a great job promoting local goods by requiring an enormous import tax on anything being shipped into the country. These import taxes can be up to 60% of the value of the goods. Because of this, getting ultimate related equipment or apparel is prohibitively expensive for the team.

We have arranged a generous donation of discs from the ADFC, Atlanta Flying Disc Club, to be shipped to the team. These will no doubt help the team in their practicing and community activities, as the discs that most of the players currently have are so scratched up they shouldn’t be played with.

Despite the donation of discs, the team still does not have jerseys. As with any sport, looking and feeling like a team is vital to the teams’ success. We would like to help the Uruguayan team look, feel, and play like a team by helping them get some jerseys. We’re doing our best from here, but we need your help. Please visit our Uruguyan Ultimate Jersey Fundraising page. Click the link or find it at the top right of our blog.

Let’s help support our ultimate communities across the world!