The Ultimate sport
Many associate flying discs, trademarked Frisbee by toymakers Wham-O, with sun-soaked toss-and-catch sessions on the beach.
For some others, it is a high-stakes competitive sport known as Ultimate!
Though Ultimate is still relatively new in Malaysia, its rapidly expanding community saw the birth of the Malaysia Ultimate Open (MUO) last year.
Organised by Ultimate Outdoor Ventures, the event is supported by the Ministry of Youth and Sports and is the only local tournament to also host overseas players.
“We actually started this tournament because we felt that local teams didn’t have a platform to compete with international teams. A lot of them can’t afford to travel regionally to compete and gain experience.
“So we thought, what the heck - since we can’t go to them, let’s bring everyone to us!” said UOV media liaison Benji Lim.
This year, MUO takes place at the Putrajaya Equestrian Park on July 25-26, and will feature sponsors such as Rocktape, MyTeksi, Doof and Gong Cha.
“Each year, our goal for MUO is to ensure that participants have a good time at the tournament and not worry about logistics and their mode of transport to Putrajaya.
“Just fly to KL, play the tournament and enjoy the food” said UOV general manager Ong Ben Jin.
The sport, which can be easily picked up and played by people of all ages, is a great way for those from different walks of life to get together.
Lauded for its tactical play, it scores like American football, passes like netball and runs like football.
The local Ultimate scene is populated by players from three communities, the first being international school-goers and expats.
Returning Malaysian students introduced the sport to urban local communities, while intercultural exchanges between expat teachers and local university students have created a booming scene in the local university community.
In fact, the best team in Malaysia is AUR, which hails from Universiti Teknologi Mara!
Despite its highly competitive play, the community is very laid back and participating in a tournament can feel like a great reunion party.
Lim has fond memories of when Ong encouraged him to attend his first Bangkok Hat tournament, where individual players get assigned random teams and team mates.
That way, players won’t know you they’re playing with until the day before the tournament.
“So the first thing that jumped at me after my first Bangkok Hat was the sense of camaraderie that was forged only over a two day event. I don't think I've ever been part of a sporting community that brings people together like that,” he added.
Though all the UOV team members have day jobs, their love for the sport and dedication to increasing the level of Ultimate play in Malaysia sees them taking all the time necessary to ensure the tournament is a success.
The team hopes to one day make MUO one of the biggest tournaments in the region and ensure that it is on every player’s must-go tournament list.
Currently, a Malaysian Ultimate Association is in the works to be set up and registered with the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
UOV will work together with the organisation to try and introduce the sport in local secondary schools.
“There's great talent in this country when it comes to Ultimate Frisbee. We'd like to work with the government to help grow that talent.
“Across the Causeway, Ultimate is now part of the Singaporean education system, so we'd definitely like to see the same for Malaysia,” said Lim.
This year’s tournament also features an online service for players to register and sign up.
“This will be a once-off registration for the players. Eventually they just have to click the tournaments that they want to attend and they'll be automatically registered with all their personal details.
“No need to go through the entire process, which is what most tournaments require players to do now,” said Ong.
Though registration for the tournament has closed, those who are interested can still sign up at uov.com.my to register as a floater.
“A floater player is an individual looking for a team to play with. Teams that are interested and are looking for players can then contact that person,” said Ong.
Anyone who’s curious about the sport, or has never played it before, is also welcome at MUO.
“Come and talk to any of the players, and I promise you - they’ll be more than happy to introduce you to the sport!” said Lim.
Time to get the basic rights
IF Malaysia wants to have a good future in sports, there has to be more emphasis on athletics. There are no two ways about it.
Malaysia’s recent showing at the Singapore SEA Games in athletics was disappointing, as we only won three gold, two silver and nine bronze medals altogether. This is the lowest ever haul in the history of the games.
We finished sixth overall in athletics. Thailand finished top with 17 gold medals, followed by Vietnam with 11 gold and Indonesia with seven gold medals. Even Singapore and Philippines finished ahead of us.
In terms of the number of overall medals in athletics, we finished fifth.
This year our gold medals in athletics came in the triple jump, high jump and discus events through Mohd Hakimi Ismail, Nauraj Singh Randhawa and Mohd Irfan Shamsuddin.
We did all right in the field events, but the track was downright disappointing. No gold in the 100m, hurdles or long-distance running events.
How have we failed in this aspect?
Athletics is the simplest form of sports as there is not much equipment needed – making its cost low.
Unless you are Usain Bolt or someone like that, athletics might not be the “sexiest” of sports.
But it is the most competed in sport at the world level and there must be more concerted efforts to improve on it.
Back in the ’70s, Malaysia was one of the leading powerhouses in Asian athletics with the likes of Tan Sri Dr M. Jegathesan who won three gold medals at the 1966 Bangkok Asian Games.
His time of 20.92sec in the 200m semifinals of the 1968 Mexico Olympics still stands till today. That’s 45 years!
Others who still have long-standing records include huddler Nur Herman Majid, and sprinters Watson Nyambek and G. Shanti.
We certainly lag behind Thailand and Vietnam in the region and nowhere close to the likes of Japan and China at the Asian level.
Yes, we won gold medals in many other competitions in the recent SEA Games, but athletics, alongside gymnastics, is the foundation for all sports. It is where one learns to be flexible.
This flexibility is important when it comes to any other sport be it basketball, hockey, badminton or football.
In short, to be a good sportsperson, you have to be athletic. Yes you can start playing football at a young age but athletics helps out very much in the development of sportsmen.
We have to get the basics right again. Rashvinjeet Singh The STAR Home News Online Exclusive 12 July 2015