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, 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!
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.
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!
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.