Getting to know Portimão

Last week, we took EBUC fans through the history and potential future of Portuguese Ultimate. This week, we thought it would be a good idea to take a closer look at one specific part of the country – Portimao, where we’ll be gathering in May to find out who the best teams in Europe are!

If you look on Wikipedia, you’ll be able to find some interesting details about Portimão. It’s got an ancient Calcolithic monument. It’s also got some Roman ruins. It has a reasonably small population – around 50,000, roughly the same as the town of Barrow-in-Furness in north-western England and about half the city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. But what else is there to know about the city?

Sport city

The city has a broad range of sporting heritage – the local sports club, Portimonese SC, has a football team that competes in the Primera Liga, Portugal’s top division, as well as a basketball team. The best-known athletes from Portimão are Claudia Neto, a Portuguese international footballer who plays in midfield for German Champions League runners-up VfL Wolfsburg and fellow Portugal international (and reigning European champion) João Moutinho who plays for Wolverhamption Wanderers in the Premier League, but there have been plenty of other footballers who’ve played for the local team born here, as well as a professional badminton player (Pedro Martins), a world champion windsurfer (Miguel Martinho), a world champion spearfisher (Jody Lot) and twin race walkers (Joao, a European silver medalist in the 20km walk, and Sergio Vieira).

Portimão is also one of the European Cities of Sport 2019, beating out rival cities in Portugal to take the title. The title, handed out by the European Capitals and Cities of Sport Federation, recognises cities that make a commitment to developing and encouraging sport in countries across Europe. One of the men helping to organise EBUC 2019, Pedro Vargas, lives in Portimão and has been co-ordinating things between the organising committee and the city. He says that the tag of sport city has been both a positive and a negative for the tournament:

“On one hand, the city is very open to assist in the best way possible for the event to be a huge success, but on the other hand there are a myriad of other major events taking place throughout the year, some of them around the same time as EBUC. That raises some organisational problems and competition for both space and resources.”

“This is a special year for the city, with almost daily sports events taking place. The novelty of our sport and the size of the event is already causing an impact and people are delighted to have us, not only for the economic impact but also the visibility and buzz that the event will bring.”

Pedro Vargas toes a catch in for Portugal at WCBU2017. Photo by Deepthi Indukuri.

Setting up EBUC

Despite the fight for attention in such a crowded sporting calendar in 2019, Pedro is very positive about the working relationship between Portimão and the event organisers:

“The city has been extremely helpful. They seem very excited about having the EBUC and they are invaluable to the successful event we all hope for. The venue is likely the best we ever had, considering previous EBUCs and WCBUs. Knowing what is being prepared, I believe the players will appreciate it greatly.”

He has been acting as a liaison between city officials and both beach ultimate body BULA and the Portuguese Disc Association in order to help facilitate the tournament taking place, and working with the local club UFA to sort out the final wrinkles.

Life in Portimão

Pedro is also well placed to answer another key question – what’s living in Portimão like, and what’s it like for visitors?

“Portimao is a small, seaside village famous for fishing and tourism. It’s one of the main destinations in Portugal for holidaymakers and has about 8km of golden beaches. Praia da Rocha, where EBUC will be taking place, is the largest and most renowned of them all. Portimão has great infrastructure, and has plenty of accommodation options within walking distance of the venue.”

From the sounds of it, the venue provides everything any player visiting the country to play such a high-level tournament could ask for. Pedro agrees, and re-iterates his strong belief that the best sporting city in Portugal this year will meet the challenge of hosting hundreds of Ultimate players from across the continent. “I am very confident about the event’s success,” he says. “Portimão ticks all the boxes to accommodate an epic EBUC.”

Cover photo courtesy of Steven Fruitsmaak.

March 8th, 2019|