From tomorrow till Sunday, the buzz at Elliots beach will be more than usual as more than 350 players will battle to win the 7th edition of the Beach Ultimate Frisbee Tournament, which is held in Chennai during the first week of October.
This year, the OrangeScape Chennai Heat 2014 is slated to be bigger and better than before. Out of the 24 teams participating, 10 are from other cities. This is also the first time the men-to-women ratio is 4:3, which means that among the seven players on a team, three players will be female. Till recently, it was 5:2. Back in 2008, the ratio was 6:1.
“We are stepping up to the international standards. The 4:3 ratio doesn’t mean that a team will only have three women. They need to have extra players. The teams participating this year have managed to get at least five female players,” says Tharakai Natesan, one of the tournament directors who plays for Chennai’s Blitzkrieg.
“Finding female teammates was a challenge for many, but the teams believe it is a healthy move and will encourage teams to find more talent and promote the game,” says Sangeetha Manoharan, who has been playing Ultimate Frisbee for four years and calls it a sport like no other. “There are no referees here. The sport revolves around the ethos of the spirit of the game, where players resolve differences among themselves. I have played sports in college but there was never a sense of community. Here, we are like a family where we are equally comfortable with people from different teams,” she says.
Sangeetha plays for team Chakraa, who were the first runners-up last year, after a close finish with Airborne Chicken Pox. Apart from the defending champions, Airborne is also fielding Airborne Small Pox and Airborne Monkey Pox. “Every team has set goals. Airborne Chicken Pox will look to defend the title this year while Monkey Pox, the debut team, is comprised of younger players who will look to find their feet playing Ultimate Frisbee. A majority of the players in Monkey Pox are school students,” says Nishanth Radhakrishnan. Over 50 children from across the country, belonging to various socioeconomic backgrounds, participate in the tournament. Kids from Urur Kuppam and Odai Kuppam area of Besant Nagar are participating too.
Ultimate Frisbee, which was started in 1968 in New Jersey, is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Every year many expats play for Indian teams and this year is no different, U.K.-born Jaidip Patel has played the game in various parts of the world. “The game is a great platform for players from all parts of the world to interact with each other. Our team (Stray Dogs in Sweaters from Delhi) has non-Indian players who have found familiarity and friends in India because of Ultimate,” he says.
The organizers have been working months in advance to ensure things are in place. But they say all the effort is worth it. And, of course, there is the Friday night celebration. “This party is especially set aside to go bonkers! The theme for this year’s party is ‘Retro’ and the teams are expected to make it a memorable night,” says Kamalanathan, another tournament director.