Ultimate on the beach is a bit different to ultimate on grass. Even at top-level tournaments such as Europeans, there’s something more relaxed, more open and more congenial about playing on the beach – even if the competition is just as fierce. It isn’t just the atmosphere that sets beach apart, though. Beach organisers have tried various innovations over the years in order to improve the way the game is played. The organisation for EBUC 2019 is no different… and this time the group is full of powerful women!
BULA and WFDF have always supported the women’s divisions in Ultimate, with the final in the Woman’s division getting a lot of media attention. The new gender rules in the Mixed division, ensuring an even gender split, is another beach ultimate innovation. These changes are also seen off the field. As a result of several years of hard work by WFDF, there are more women than ever shaping how tournaments will run and how the sport develops. We spoke to some of the women organising EBUC2019 to find out what their roles are, how they got to the position they are in, and what changes they’d like to see in the future.
Karina Woldt – WFDF’s managing director for events and operations
Karina has worked on all continental and world championships since 2014 – while also being a mother to three young children. Her role is important for all disc sports, as it involves ultimate as well as overall disc sports, freestyle, guts and disc golf. Karina has been working for this particular event since 2017:
“Since WFDF called to bid for hosts back in October 2017, I have been working with the organising committee on a weekly basis. I make sure that the tournament meets the standard for WFDF continental events, ensuring the quality and professional delivery of all aspects of the event. Our priority is to deliver world class event services to our players, stakeholders, sponsors and hosts that enables the sport of beach ultimate to be promoted and highly regarded globally.”
Since working for WFDF, Karina has noticed that more and more women are taking on key roles in tournaments.
“It’s fantastic to see so many women involved in this event – four out of the five members of the tournament rules group are women! Two years ago, WFDF paid considerable attention to finding women who could take on these roles in events and we can now clearly see a trend in events in the next couple of years of more female involvement.”
She doesn’t plan for that trend to reverse any time soon.
“It is my intention to continue working with our event hosts bidding for major WFDF events to find and promote women into key roles on each events team. Women seem to be natural organisers, multi-taskers and often prove to be fantastic at arranging events due to their attention to detail. Sometimes it just takes a little focus to find people who can succeed in roles that were previously filled mostly by males.”
Sofia C Pereira – Tournament director
Sofia has been playing as well as organising beach ultimate since 1995 and has been involved in this event from the very beginning. Given her experience in beach ultimate, she helped to write up the bid and to build the working team. Keeping an even gender balance was something that the team behind the tournament was very conscious of:
“Preparing the bid and organising EBUC has been a very positive learning experience thanks to a very solid team, both male and female. When we wrote up the bid, we had intended to keep the Tournament Organising Committee as gender equal as possible – in the end it turns out that more than half of the staff is female.”
As the tournament approaches, Sofia is looking forward to the day:
“As the EBUC2019 arrives, I am getting very excited to see the beach full of athletes and discs, to catch up with old friends, make new friends, and host a fantastic tourney with amazing staff, partners and WFDF representative officials.”
She’s also keen to see more opportunities for women in beach ultimate in future – particularly the masters-age divisions:
“More women playing and at later ages is my hope for the future,” says Sofia. “A great grandmaster mixed division would be awesome!”
Filipa Bringel – Local tournament director
Filipa has been an essential part of this event from the very beginning. As part of the local club, UFA, she has had a hand in several events in Portugal in recent years. As EBUC’s local director, Filipa has been wearing out the soles of her shoes to ensure accommodation, food, and venue issues run smoothly.
“I think that the most important thing,” says Filipa, “is that irrespective of gender we have a hard-working and organised team, one that is committed to giving the players a great and well-organised tournament. I firmly believe that gender equity is about people doing their jobs and being acknowledged for their work, regardless of their gender.”
As a beach ultimate player (keep an eye on her on the Portuguese mixed team), Filipa would like to see the number of female players in Portugal continue to grow.
“I would really like the number of female players to increase substantially, in order to increase the competitiveness and the level of play, particularly in Portugal,” Filipa adds.
Ekatertina Barabanova – SOTG director
Kate will be the spirit of the game director at EBUC 2019, a role she’s previously filled at WBUC 2017 in Royan, at the 2017 World Games in Wroclaw, as well as at other continental championships. She’s been involved with the WFDF spirit of the game committee since 2014 and has also been involved with organising tournaments around the world – from her native Russia (many know her as Russian Kate) to the United States and other parts of Europe.
“I would like to get more real examples of women’s stories to show to people, both men and women, how it could be,” she says. “The more we talk about it, the more people pay attention to that. We aren’t talking about some random women who we see on TV and never know if their stories are truth or a scenario, but about women who we know, or my friends know, who are closer and more real for us.
“I like to be an example,” she adds. “A good and inspiring example. And I’ve heard that for some people I am.”
Corinne Tupling – Sustainability director
Corinne has been involved with the tournament since the beginning. She contributed to the sustainability part of the proposal for EBUC and is currently ensuring that the event is as socially and environmentally responsible as possible. She’s also a beach ultimate player and is on the WFDF beach ultimate committee. Before moving to Portugal, Corinne was involved in setting up the first ultimate team in El Salvador and organising the country’s first ever tournaments. She hopes that in the next few years, ‘beach ultimate keeps giving a platform to great female role models for all levels of ultimate’.
Shiellah Quintos – International volunteer manager and EBUC2019 rules group
Shiellah has been involved in ultimate administration since 2003, and world and continental beach tournaments since 2015, having started at WCBU in Dubai. She is heavily involved with officiating in a variety of ways – she’s been a certified observer since 2007, an AUDL referee in Montreal since 2013 and a game advisor since 2014, working at WUGC 2016 and WUCC 2018 in recent years.
“Having so many women involved in these events makes a difference,” she says.
“I think men and women working on the same team makes these events even more successful. Each unique perspective, working towards the same goals, highlights our strengths and improves on our weaknesses. When other women see other formidable female role models, it inspires them to do the same. Seeing and working with women in these events inspires me to be my best self.”
Carla Oliveira – Health and safety director
Carla is the health and safety director at EBUC and has been involved in the bid since late in 2018. As one of the key organisers of the Lisbon MOW tournament over the past five years, she brings plenty of experience to the team.
“I hope having so many women involved in the tournament helps bring a unique perspective,” she says. “In Portugal, we have a small ultimate community and the number of female players is small, but I hope that the number of female players will continue to rise in quality and quantity in the next few years.”
And many more…
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and there are other women who deserve a mention for their hard work up to this point. For example, Adriana Valentim, from the local team UFA, has done a stellar job with the Maritime Police and the local hotels. Special mention must also go to the EBUC food organisers Stephanie Huffman and her two daughters who have very important roles keeping everyone happily fed. And we can’t forget Filipa Matta May, who is rocking social media and keeping EBUC2019 discs flying between Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Jen Thomas, the WFDF Director of Communications and Global Media has been key in promoting the event from the WFDF side. And finally, the WFDF beach ultimate committee president, Karen Cabrera, who will be coming to Portugal from Boracay to make the event even better!