With trends changing more often than the Irish weather it’s difficult to tell how long each new fad will last. However, Ultimate Frisbee is one sport trend that really does seem to have gained a strong fellowship, and with Ireland coming second in the mixed division of the sport in 2012, could Ultimate Frisbee eventually rival the GAA?
The captain of the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) Ultimate Frisbee team, Aidan Kelly, spoke to The City about what Ultimate Frisbee actually is and why it is one of Ireland’s most up and coming sports.
“Ultimate Frisbee is a sport that basically combines different aspects of soccer, basketball and American Football,” Kelly explained. “Obviously, it’s biggest unique standing point is that it uses a disc instead of a ball, like most sports. It’s getting extremely popular in Ireland and globally due to the fact that it teaches great fundamentals and because it is self-refereed, it is seen as a great example for kids to understand sportsmanship.”
Aidan got involved in the sport through a friend’s brother who started a team in Meath. After being taught the basics, he carried on playing with DIT’s college team. The sport’s main aim is to pass the disc from player to player without it touching the ground from one endzone to another for a score. The player that has the disc cannot run whilst in possession and each team has seven players.
“Ultimate Frisbee is for both genders and is split into divisions; Open, Women’s and Mixed. Open is mainly men, although girls sometimes play, while Mixed requires at least three of each gender on the pitch at a time. In Irish Ultimate Frisbee, there is a much larger percentage of guys playing than girls, but DIT has been strongly motivated into trying to strengthen it’s women’s team,” said Kelly.
With the sport being self refereed, it gives a new angle to its players, but is it as skilled as Ireland’s beloved GAA?
“From the outside looking in, I can imagine it must seem crazy, but at a high enough level the intensity of a game can match any GAA match,” argued Kelly. “Fitness and conditioning is crucial.Training differs at different levels. There are a few schools across the country that play it, where the aims are just to get them learning how to play. At college, where the majority of people pick it up, it is a lot more competitive. DIT train three times a week, along with having fitness sessions.”
As well as being Ireland’s most up and coming sport, Ultimate Frisbee is also getting more recognition on an international level.
“Ultimate Frisbee currently has two professional leagues in America, which are both growing each year. There are also many international tournaments that Ireland participate in,” said Kelly. ”I, myself, am going to Dubai to play for Ireland in March in the World Beach Ultimate Championships, which is pretty exciting. Ireland came second in the Mixed division at Euros in 2012 so we’re hoping to come home with more medals and some big wins!”
The President of Ultimate Frisbee Ireland, Brian Boyle, also spoke to the City about what the organisation is doing to promote the sport.
“In 2015 we are hoping to spread the sport more by involving secondary schools, and also move into primary schools which are great to spread awareness of the sport,” said Boyle. “It’s the perfect sport for PE classes and teachers tend to love the whole concept of self-officiating and ‘Spirit of the Game’. We also hope to receive Sports Council Recognition and may have as many as 10 national teams competing at the World and European championships.
“I believe the sport is growing so strongly because of the friendliness of the community and the opportunities it has for meeting new people and seeing new places. I also personally believe it is the most fun team sport to play and offers the chance to get better and improve year after year. We have over 400 members nationwide, but estimate that there are well over 1,000 people actually playing disc sports in Ireland.”
Catch the Sport in action in the video below.