The Ultimate fair game

By Liz Bourne

University isn’t just about going to lectures and hanging out in the library. It can also be a great opportunity to try something new. You may want to join a sports club, but what if the usual football or netball clubs don’t appeal?

Ultimate Frisbee is played between two teams with a Frisbee (or ‘disc’ as players prefer to call it). It is a bit of a mix between netball, in that you can’t run with the disc, and American football because you score by throwing it to a team mate in your ‘endzone’ (end of the pitch). You gain the disc by intercepting it or if the other team drop it. The winning team is the first to reach an agreed number of goals. It can be layed by single sex or mixed teams of 5 (inside) or 7 (outside).

One of the most unusual features of Ultimate is that there are no referees. If you believe you’ve been fouled, it’s your responsibility to say and the game stops while the players discuss it. This ‘spirit of the game’ stresses fair play, honesty and respect and means teamwork and communication are essential. Players often introduce themselves to their marker and at the end of each game the captains compliment the opposing team.

Josephine Griffiths studies Criminology and Forensic studies at the University of Portsmouth and is passionate its Ultimate club. We chatted with her to find out why…

Were you into sport before going to university?

I didn’t play much sport at school. I never excelled enough to be part of any team. I was more the kind of pupil to be involved in performing arts.

What attracted you to Ultimate?

I wanted to do something that wasn’t as ‘big’ as other sports. In a club with fewer people, the existing members take time to get to know the freshers (first year university students) personally. I also wanted to try something different, that not many people would be excellent at straight away.

What do you love about the sport?

Everyone is treated equally, no one is given special attention for being good and no one is discouraged from training, even if they’re not the fastest learner. Everyone I know who has joined Ultimate has fallen in love with it and is committed to the game.

What would you say to someone interested in trying it out?

Go for it. Before university, I wasn’t very sporty and I’m definitely not the most physically fit, but this doesn’t matter as you can improve as a team. There’s no pressure to be the best player and constantly perform 100%, but when you get into the training and start attending tournaments, you’ll want to get better, play the best you can and bring home all the trophies!

Did you know?

  • The word ‘Frisbee’ is copyrighted by the Wham-O company which popularised the flying disc in the 1960s.
  • The game was invented by college students in 1967 in New Jersey, USA.
  • Ultimate is played at the World Games and recognised by the International Olympic Committee.
  • A disc holds 3 pints of water.
  • Thundercatch in Gosport are one of the longest running junior teams in the UK.

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