Ultimate Frisbee – More than just the game

By Yasmin Latif 

When I first knew about Frisbee, all I imagined was a flying disc that people play with their dogs, or a game played to have fun at the beach. Simply said, it seemed like a game for leisure.

Well, I hope I can be forgiven for thinking that way because in reality, Ultimate Frisbee has grown with the times and can be played on a competitive level. Ultimate Frisbee has been approved by the International Olympic Committee and speculation is rife that it may become part of the roster of the 2024 Games.

It is frantic, fast-paced, free-for-all and requires sharp attention from the players. Okay, let’s go back to  history as to when Frisbee became a sport.

Ultimate Frisbee began because of a pie, yes PIE – the delicious dessert. In 1871, William Russel Frisbie opened his pie business located in Bridgeport, Connecticut and named it as “Frisbie Pie Company”. The bakery was located near to Yale College, so the students from Yale would usually go there to eat pie.

Based on a study by Gerald Griggs from University Wolverhampton, U.K., Yale College students frequently bought Frisbie pies and after eating them, they would toss the empty pie tins around the Yale campus. As metal pie dishes it would not be the kindest of the rare projectil to be easily struck by, throwers would shout the cautionary word “frisbie-e-e-e!” so that the catcher will be alert to catch it.

The rules in the game and how it is played

Ultimate Frisbee is a non-contact, self-refereed team played with a flying disc. The official disc is the 175 g Discraft Ultrastar. At each end of the playing field, there is an end zone.  Each team defends one end zone.

The objective of each team is to score a goal by having a player catch a pass in the end zone that they are attacking. A thrower may not run with the disc but may pass the disc in any direction to any team-mate. Any time a pass is incomplete, a turnover occurs, and the other team shall take possession and attempt to score in the opposite end zone. There are 7 players per side and the field is 64 meters long and 37 m wide with 18 m end zones.

Compared to most sports, a game of ultimate is self-refereed. It runs on one essential element, which is the “spirit of the game”.

It encourages fair play and sportsmanship. So, should disputes arise between teams, they are usually resolved by team captains.

Should there be irresolvable differences, although rarely happen, captains follow standardised rules by the World Flying Disc Federation.

The amazing thing is that ultimate’s self-refereeing system works beautifully and rarely ever fails.

Ultimate Frisbee emerged in IIUM 

Ultimate Frisbee was introduced in the parking lot many years ago when JOEL SILVER, the Hollywood film producer, surprisingly was one of the Ultimate Frisbee pioneers. Thanks to his joke during students council meeting in Columbia High School when he ridiculously said Frisbee should be in a curriculum and his accidental joke got approved.

Ultimate Frisbee became a sport and it is spreading all over the places including Malaysia. Currently, Malaysia Ultimate Frisbee has taken root among the younger generation in schools, colleges, and universities in Malaysia.

For IIUM, it started when the former captain of Ulti Mustangs, Luqman Sabardin from Kulliyyah of Engineering joined his friends to play Frisbee during the short semester in June 2014.

Then, his friend Ahmad Farhan, a student from KICT got attracted with Frisbee. They have been playing Frisbee for about  three months and with only three months experience they decided to test their abilities by joining their first tournament called KL Hat 2014.

“In KL Hat 2014, many Ultimate Frisbee players around Malaysia, and even Hong Kong and Australia, regardless of age, gender, background, and experience gather to compete, where they enter individually and will mix with random players to create a team. Players are sorted into teams by the organisers, teams are balanced out based on skills and experience. Team players range from veterans to absolute newbies, and consist of people you don’t know or have never played with,” said Farhan.

Trust is the key to gain mutual understanding

During the game, trust is the key to gain mutual understanding among team members and to get to the end zone. Despite the fact that they are formed from a new and unfamiliar teammate, they still need to do their part. Surprisingly, the strong bond is made after the game.

Mesmerizing with the spirit of the game where people are willing to travel far and wide to play this sport, has made both of them motivated to take the biggest step to start their own team in IIUM Gombak campus.

It became more crucial when they also need to endure with the stereotypes of the sports itself, which is the game being played with dogs. That in itself makes people around being skeptical to join and play. However, nothing is impossible if it comes along with effort and passion.

The Ulti Mustangs have only been around for a little over a year but they have come a long way since their establishment in early 2015. They have been active in many open tournaments some of them Grizzly Open, True Champion Skyflex Inter Uni held at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Jengka and Tyro Ultimate Tournament 2015 organised by BMI Kuala Lumpur which they won second place.

The road to success is not easy to navigate, it needs an endless effort and passion. To introduce Frisbee to the IIUM communities became the knot that required them to utilise all thoughts and skills on Ultimate Frisbee in convincing them to have the same desire towards this game.

In the first batch there were only 20 in the team but now the number keeps increasing with many new faces showing interest in Ulti Mustangs. Not been seen as a dog catching game, Ulti Mustangs has come to the existence and has been turned on its head and transformed into a competitive sport.***

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