Just Like That.. It is Finished..

Last we left you I was sitting here at 1am half asleep trying to explain what had happened game by game with a few details in between such as the occasional camel crossing the field (yes that happens) or the occasional plane flying over head dropping skydivers.  One thing I had never imagined as your sideline reporter is that after a day of sitting on the sidelines snapping pictures and chatting with people, that I would be dead tired and too sleepy to type anything; but indeed it happens.

But lets get back to our dear Dutch and their quest to do well while looking awesome at WCBU in Dubai. Day 3 really melted into day 4 for me and I’m sure I’m not alone on this. The difference being that when we awoke on Day 3 there was still the possibility, after defeating the enthusiastic and cheerful India who were appearing in only their second world’s competition, The Netherlands could still qualify for the quarter finals. The problem being that they would have to do this by winning against Canada or The Philippines… no easy task. If you know anything about this sport of ours then you know both these entities and legendary for winning… consistently. But as they say in the juice business, when life hands you lemons, you throw them back at life and insist on oranges…. something like that. Our team was determined to succeed.

fear the zone!

fear the zone!

By the time the face off with the friendlier North Americans had began, an insane wind had also set in. The kind of wind that creates sand storms and tosses plastic in all kinds of crazy directions. The kind of wind that can skew the balance of most any match. In this case, it created a situation where NED and CAN were in a very tight game for much of the match. The only problem was scoring, an achievement we would see very little of from either side. So when Canada took the lead early, no matter how many times our guys and gals would huck it into the end zone, inevitably the disc would jump or bank violently in some random uncatchable direction. A close match but in the end, Canada controlled the tempo and the outcome. Everything would ride on the Philippines match that evening.

Meanwhile on the sideline, as I mentioned, days are melting into days. People are tired and hot, so what you get is lots of bodies strewn around under the protection of the tents. Lots of random napping and passing out for those who aren’t playing in the next hour. And while that might sound mellow, some sidelines still feel more like a carnival atmosphere than a game. One such sideline belongs to the Philippines. Move over calm, pensive Western sidelines, this crew likes it loud, this crew likes to laugh, and this crew loves their team. Any of their players from another division that don’t have a game are right there on the sideline cheering, singing, incessantly waving flags in support of their team. It is enough to drive you mad if you happen to not be on their side. Which is how I felt watching team Oranje take on the Dragons that evening. The pressure was on, the atmosphere was tense, and the emotions could easily flare up. Of course- we’re all trained almost-professionals so we know how to deal with such situations. But still, sitting on the sideline watching our team putting their heart and soul as well as every bit of energy they’ve got left into the game that could help them break into the top 8, while what seems to be a carnival is going on around you, is a very surreal feeling.  But let’s get to the meat of the issue especially since the outcome is now well known. The Philippines would win the match and that loss was a really hard one to take. Above all for one reason, our team really wanted that one. It was almost as if every bit of work, every minute of practice over the past year, was for winning this game. But the win had not happened, and the game didn’t feel good or positive. It was a bitter pill to swallow as they say in the uh… pharmaceutical industry.

Hilco eyes his target

Hilco eyes his target

From that moment on it became a quest to win the lower pool. To make sure that if in order to finish in ninth place the team had to win all three of their last games, that they would do exactly that. From Australia, to Switzerland, and back to the Czech Republic, our gang in Orange played inspired ultimate. Scrappy D, daring O, constant communication and adjustment to every situation; all the training and preparing fell into place again and it resulted in solid victories in every game of the final two days of the tournament. The Netherlands would finish 9th. The team would sit back to watch the finals and have a laugh with friends, confident and proud knowing that despite the things that didn’t happen for the team, they had fought valiantly, never given up, and done a hell of a job on and off the field. -Plus they all got a wicked sun burn.- Goodnight Dubai!

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Ups and Downs of Pool Play; Day 2 Report

When we last left you our heroes in Orange had 2 wins, 1 loss, and were looking to push their way towards the top 4 in their pool as day 2 of the WCBU began.

The weather, unsurprisingly, was hot, hotter than anything we ever see back in Amsterdam, and also just hotter than the first day of the tournament. Not that hot days in the desert is a big surprise, but March in Dubai can sometimes be merciful. But not on this day. Our first opponent as the sun made its way over the skyscrapers in Jumeirah Beach Residence; Germany.

Germany mixed were another team that had gotten the better of our squad during a preparation tournament in Portugal last month. It was clear even then that the road to success meant getting past them and that was certainly a goal. Along with Canada they had established themselves at the top of the pool after day 1 and were looking strong. The first half turned out to be a good one for the Netherlands, after coming back from an early 2-0 deficit, the crew came back and took the lead a few times only to have Germany get it back each time. In the last 20 minutes of the game, despite throwing everything they had at them, the German D caught fire and put up several unanswered points leading to the final result: NL 7 DE 10.  A disappointing loss that also meant a major setback on the quest to top 4 in their pool.

Spirit Circle at the end of a challenging day.

Spirit Circle at the end of a challenging day.

After a long break and a rare opportunity to watch some of the many many games going on all around us, in the evening it was time to face off with the Czech Republic. Not unlike the GB Mixed team, these guys had also had some difficult losses and some positive results as well. As they so often say in this game – anything was possible and NED would make sure to put everything they had into this match.  After a scorching day by the half way point of this game a nice cool breeze blew in and the sun faded out behind the haze making it that much more possible for our (and their) players to play their hearts out.  Maybe it was skill, maybe it was the frustration of having lost their previous match, or maybe it was their delicious tournament organized bag lunches; whatever the cause, team Oranje went all out on both offense and defense, stifling the Czech attack and piling on the points.  7-3 at the half would turn into 13-5 by the end of the game. The team was pleased but also too busy getting mentally and physically ready for the following day’s challenges to celebrate. Some dinner, some treatment of sore muscles, and plenty of rest for tomorrow would feature matches against India, Canada, and The Philippines.

Day 1 Summary

Greetings frisbee followers from every corner of the world and of course especially those whose wardrobe includes at least one pair of orange sunglasses, pants, or oven mitts. As the lone non-participating member of the Netherlands frisbee community in Dubai I have the unique vantage point, if I’m not off looking at sky scrapers, to watch our boys and girls in orange take on the world at this year’s World Beach Ultimate Championships. Also known among local tourists as “Oh my, where did all these lunatics come from and why are they taking up a square kilometer of beach along the Arabian gulf in order to throw plastic plates?” 

So let us dispense with the formalities and get down to the brass tax of it all, you want to know what it is I’m seeing. Let us begin our journey with Day 1 and skip past the opening ceremonies in which under the blazing sun, representatives from 25 countries happily marched their way along the beach, passed the Hilton, the Ritz, a Ferrari and a few miserable camels, towards the main arena to mark the opening of the tournament. I won’t bother describing all the laughs, the love, the joy, the old friends, the new friends, and the sweating. Instead Ill show you a photo of Oranje on the march.

een, twee, een, tee.. hup hup.. lekker warm eh?

een, twee, een, twee.. hup hup.. lekker warm eh?

Eventually the sun goes away in this town. The steel and sand cools down, many a frisbee player sits out at a cafe for a drink and a bite, and much strategy is discussed. It must be the first time in recorded history that the main conversation down at Jumeirah Beach Residence isn’t real estate but instead, what kind of zone to implement tomorrow against team Canada.

Finally we arrive at Day 1 – A day in which the Netherlands would face three opponents: Great Britain, Uganda (live streamed from the main arena), and Sweden. It was to be a long day of competing which the team has been preparing for over the past year. They were ready to put all that preparation to work against some tough and interesting opponents.

First up GB:

If I were one of these frisbee talking heads I would tell you all sorts of fun facts about this talented crew. I’d tell you about their home clubs and their record and you’d be impressed by my knowledge. But I’m not that person. What I can tell you is that the air was crisp and still slightly cool at 9am, the sky scrapers surrounding the Marina provided a few more minutes of protection from the sun monster, allowing both teams to play hard and unhindered by the heat that was still to come. (foreshadowing!)

NL had taken on GB just a few weeks ago at a preparation tournament in Portugal. They had won that match and in the process both sides knew just a bit more of what to expect. The result was an even match, with our side coming up with some huge defensive plays including hand blocks and surprise interceptions of some talented GB handlers. Another factor that proved more beneficial for the Orange, the deep threats, with many points coming on long throws into the end zone. Not usually the signature move of the team but good to know the option is there when they need it. As time ran out, NED kept their lead over the crew in blue, final score NL 12 GB 9. On to the arena where all our pals can watch us on TV!

Hello Uganda:

While the Netherlands fans and I’m sure the team itself would want this to be all about the intensity and skill of our crew, it has to be said that it is really cool to see Uganda playing in their first Worlds tournament. The sport is still young there but the team arrived in Dubai this year and have captured a lot of hearts and made many friends on and off the field. But this is not just some feel good story to print on the third page of that free newspaper you half read on the train this morning – Uganda can play. In fact before a live streaming audience of hundreds (maybe?) they came out firing, putting up two points relatively quickly and reminding anyone who needed proof, they are for real. Of course, as our team captains would surely remind me, they had no illusions of having an easy game and would be ready to give it their all as they do in every match. Look here’s a photo to illustrate how serious:

diving Dino with a big point against Uganda.

diving Dino with a big point against Uganda.

Fast forward to the end of the game, picture two extremely tired and sweaty teams and a final score of NL 12 – UG 5.

On to Sweden:

As the evening drew ever closer, with two wins under their elastic belts, the crew knew that the next match would be a big one. Say what you want about every team being a challenge and all that bla bla about taking one game at a time, if you play mixed at a national level, you probably have heard about how good Sweden has been over the years. And surely Sweden had heard how good the Netherlands has been getting over the years. Point is – tough game for sure.

Which is exactly how it would feel throughout. They came out scoring right away and our side was forced to try and play catchup throughout. You could point to errors but you could also point to a very calm, cool, and experienced Swedish side that showed little -if any- weaknesses. NED tried some different defensive looks, some heroic plays to force turnovers, – I even tried charming a Swede on the sideline; nothing worked. Here’s my dramatic made-for-TV conclusion: you won this round Sweden, but we will meet again! NL 7 SE 13

Huck it Yvonne!

Huck it Yvonne!

Thus ended day 1 with our orange pals at 2 wins and 1 loss and eyes on tomorrow’s grudge match bright and early against Germany followed by an evening with the Czechs. How romantic! – Stay tuned.