CHENNAI: As the evening sets in, sea breeze wafts across Elliot’s Beach. Frisbees slice the air, are caught and thrown back deftly by a bunch of acrobatic kids from Urur Olcott Kuppam – it’s practice time. This set of children, all in Class 11 or pursuing initial years of their diploma, would soon represent the country at the Ultimate Frisbee World Junior Ultimate Championships in Poland.
Of the 20-odd players selected for the Under-19 national team, 11 players are from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, and 9 are from the Kuppam. The kuppam boys are excited about meeting players from other countries and ofcourse, their first trip abroad. “This is our first trip abroad and we are representing our country along with boys from Surat, Mumbai, Delhi and other places,” says Kishore Kumar, who is doing second year of diploma. Kishore practices for about three hours a day.
S Sanjay, in Class 11, explains how he started off. “I was curious about the game; so I joined a group that was playing. But I lost their frisbee. I thought they would ask me to replace it, but they just asked me to come and play the next day too,” he recalls. Explaining the physics of the game animatedly, he tilts his hand and demonstrates how the disc would fly if released at a 45-degree angle.
Akash or ‘AP’ as he likes to be called, another 11th grader, explains how they practice. “First, we throw from a close range. After 10 throws, we take five steps back and so on. When we start learning, we throw from short range.” Most of the boys have been playing for two to three years. Pudiyador, an NGO which works with underprivileged children, has been coaching them. “Most of the Chennai-based athletes on the U-19 Indian team are graduates of the Pudiyador programme and they learned to play from our sports coaches. We are proud of them!” says Chiai Urugachi from Pudiyador.
The team has been practising primarily on the beach sands, where landings are softer. “In the tournament, it will be a grass surface. We are training for this,” says Siva, one of the coaches for the team, who is part of the U-23 team that will go to London later this year. “We have four months. Each month, we’re planning to have a 7-day intensive camp,” says Tarun, another coach.
With the tournament starting July 31, there is a lot of work to do. Getting passports, tickets, visas, jerseys and most importantly, sponsors. “We are looking for someone to sponsor these talents. Not many people know about this sport,” says Tarun.
Call Tarun 9789752948 for details.
The object of Ultimate Frisbee is to pass the disc to your teammates and finally get it to the end-zone
There are 7 players a side
Players holding the disc cannot run with it — they have to throw
If the frisbee is intercepted by the opposing team, they can pass it to their teammates and try to score