Shiok times for Ultimate frisbee here

Shiok times for Ultimate frisbee here

In ultimate frisbee, players are often seen reaching for the disc at great heights. Here in Singapore, the sport has indeed reached new milestones.

Not only is it gaining in popularity, but that growth has been matched in terms of achievement with a Singapore team finishing 10th at the World Ultimate Club Championships - the best ever result for a local club.

The tournament held last month in Italy saw Shiok finish with five wins and four losses in the mixed division, climbing three spots from their initial 13th seeding among 48 clubs.

Ultimate is a non-contact, team-based sport played with a frisbee. Usually played seven-a-side, teams vie to reach a certain number of goals: points are scored by getting the frisbee into their designated "endzone", which is similar to American football.

Singapore's other two teams in Italy, Crackerjacks and Sin City, also surpassed expectations. The 46th-seeded Crackerjacks were 36th among 48 teams in the open division, while 29th seeds Sin City finished 28th among 32 clubs in the women's category.

This is also the first time that three local clubs have taken part in the WUCC, which is held every four years.

The sport was introduced in Singapore in the mid-1990s by a group of expatriates, and has been growing ever since.

A spokesman for the Ultimate Players Association Singapore (Upas) estimates that there are currently 800 active members here, 95 per cent of whom are locals. Three years ago, Upas had about 500 active members.

Upas president Enrique Lee said around two-thirds of its new members are students from tertiary institutions.

"Polytechnics and universities are recognising Ultimate as a sport, and junior colleges are also allowing students to have more (Ultimate) interest groups," Mr Lee said.

There is also greater awareness of the sport, with semi-pro leagues set up in the United States and more tournaments held in Singapore, he said.

One of the factors contributing to Ultimate's growing popularity, is the low start-off cost, said Benjamin Ho, founder of coaching company Ultysports. Players just need to have cleats and basic sports gear.

Kumaresan, 31, a member of the Crackerjacks and vice-president of Upas, said he picked up Ultimate in university five years ago.

"It is a sport that is sustainable at the competitive level, even for players well into their working careers," he said.

adrianl@sph.com.sg


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