In the lead up to EBUC a post was written on the role of Currier Island at the European championships. Jim Scott had been in conversation with Sofia C Pereira about how Currier Island could give back to the Ultimate community and help with the tournament’s aim of having positive impact on Portimao. The result was a teaching field initiative, where Currier Island would hold daily sessions to teach local children about the basic elements of Ultimate. At the end of the session, attendees would be able to take home a recycled disc each so they could continue playing with friends at home. The training field has been running for three days now, so this morning I went to see how it was going.
The schedule noted twenty-five children were expected to be in attendance but when I arrived, there were about forty to fifty young teenagers playing on the field. I arrived with the intention of speaking to a Currier Island representative about how it had been going but initially everyone seemed far too occupied to talk. In one endzone were players instructing a group of boys playing a mini game of seven on seven. All the boys looked completely in the zone, determined to win. They were fearless, going to the ground from the offset of the game to score points for their team. One boy didn’t look too happy when he took in a mouthful of sand but his teammate patted him on the back and helped him up.
In the middle of the pitch there were another two groups of teens. One group was learning how to force whilst the other were being taught how to throw. As new frisbee players, these skills were foreign concepts, but with role models in every direction, the children seemed excited to learn.
In the furthest endzone was a discussion about the rules of contact and spirit. For most, the notion of spirit and self-refereeing was new. Some took to it better than others but regardless, the spirit of the game gave them something to consider.
Finally, when a few more Currier Island players came to help, I asked Kārlis Kozulāns, a representative of the Currier Island men’s team, what he thought of the initiative. He told me, ‘It’s going really well! I think schools may have even brought some classes along. It’s nice to see so many young guys and girls trying to understand the sport. We know we can’t teach them everything in one session but we’re showing them the basics of the game and a lot of them are picking it up really quickly which is great. Sometimes the wind has been an issue for those learning to throw, but it doesn’t seem put them off at all! I hope some of them grow up into good Ultimate players.’ I can definitely see the potential present for Kārlis’ desires to come true.
Thus, the Currier Island field has been a success; everyone seemed to be having a good time in the sun. With Portimao already being a hub of Ultimate, I wouldn’t be surprised if, a couple of years down the line, Portugal’s youth divisions start looking particularly strong. Who knows, perhaps this week could have been the start of many players’ careers.
By Maya Israel
Cover photo taken by Iliya Shypunov