Is there a sport that is fast-paced—where defence can turn into offence in the blink of an eye, that knocks off the biases of age and gender, so all players are literally on a level playing field—and is easy to play? A game which challenges the physical limits of players on various fronts, teaches you far more about life than just winning, and like most team sports should, lets you make lots of new friends?
There really is such a sport.
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Ultimate, originally called Ultimate Frisbee, is one such game. While cricket, arguably the country’s most popular sport, had to trim down to the much shortened Twenty20 to actually draw in the crowds, Ultimate is already a fast-paced, action-packed game with not a dull moment. It’s one of the fastest growing sports in India and in cities such as Chennai (Chennai Ultimate Frisbee club has pioneered the sport in India, http://chennaiultimatefrisbee.com), its popularity is continuously soaring. Ultimate is now played in most Indian cities, with an active competitive inter-city league which hosts tournaments every three months. The first national tournament took place in Ahmedabad in February 2008 and was organized by Indicorps, and the latest tournament was a two-day event called Chennai Heat, held earlier this month.
Ultimately yours: The exciting game is played in most Indian cities.
Tournaments have been played on hard surfaces, grass fields and on the beach.
Ultimate is primarily played in competition format, between two teams at any one time, with seven players to a side. It’s played in a large open area, where the aim is to get the flying disc to the goal area (end zone), where it needs to be caught by a player from the same team to count as a point. The team that reaches the predefined number of points first, or the team with a minimal margin of two points at zero minutes left, wins. Each game lasts an hour, with each team getting 30 minutes each.
What makes this game really popular is that it is low budget and really easy to play. You only need a flying disc (“frisbee” is a trademark for a line of discs made by a particular company), open flat space and two teams, usually mixed.
This game is heavily dependent on strategizing and requires plenty of planning, teamwork, instant decision making, not only for the captain but for each team player. It isn’t focused merely on offence, but also defence. It requires a balanced combination of high endurance, sharp bursts of speed and accurate, sharp reflexes, and this makes it appealing to both sexes. Being a non-contact sport makes it even more gender neutral.
Because it is so gender neutral and egalitarian, the game is perfect for all groups, be it rural or corporate India. What makes it even better is that it instils in its players some critical life skills. Sport after all should be more about these than just winning medals. If your preferred sport hasn’t made you a better human being, why play it? And what really differentiates Ultimate from other sports is its concept of the “Spirit of the Game”: The game is self-refereed and players call their own fouls. It, therefore, trains people for conflict resolution without third-party intervention as there are no referees, and it needs players to have a strong sense of sportsman spirit. It’s tremendously competitive, without being unruly.
Rajat Chauhan is a practitioner of sports and exercise medicine and musculoskeletal medicine, and CEO of Back 2 Fitness.
Write to Rajat at firstname.lastname@example.org