Ultimate Barranquilla – Elevate your Sport
Ultimate is not a game for the out-of-shape. It’s extremely fast-paced and involves a lot of running, leaping and sliding. The purpose of the game is to score points by receiving a pass from a teammate while having both feet in the opposing players’ endzone. Players cannot run with the disc – it must be passed. Each team has up to seven players on the field at once so once a disc is thrown, everyone is trying to either catch it or prevent their opponents from catching it. Ultimate Frisbee is a very cool sport – and it’s a lot of fun.
Ultimate Frisbee is nothing like the other team sports played here. First off, it’s a non-contact sport, meaning that players don’t intentionally hit or tackle each other like they do in rugby or American football for example. Next, all arguments are settled between the players themselves – there are no referees – a foreign concept for people so used to soccer. The self-refereeing is driven by a strong desire to play fairly and to have fun – while some games can be quite competitive, the basis of the sport is having fun and often teams become so close that they even refer to themselves as families.
The idea of Frisbee as a competitive sport appeared in the city some 20 years ago with exchange students who had come to Barranquilla to study at Universidad Del Norte and Universidad Autonoma Del Caribe. Besides learning from our culture and experiencing life on the northern coast of Colombia, these young foreigners planted the Ultimate seed in the heads of their classmates.
The “Spirit of the Game” and the high level of sportsmanship built into the concept seduces educators and players alike, and the game concept has quickly been adopted by institutions and by the local college students, who after graduation, began forming teams outside the campuses.
Two decades after the arrival of the sport in Colombia the idea of forming a structure to maintain regular practice soon began to appear. Leaders of the various local clubs began to contact other players from around the country and eventually, they formed the Colombian Ultimate Players Association. With the support of this new organisation, and management of the formalities that Coldeportes requires to acknowledge the existence of a new sport, different cities started to form organized leagues. The first ones in the country were Bogotá and Antioquia.
Barranquilla now has five teams, two female (UEPA and KAMAU), and three male (Arena Roja, METATE, and Tenabares). The captains of these squads are trying to form an Atlántico League, and they hope that within two years they can make that happen. For now, the local clubs want to expand Ultimate as much as they can.
With that objective, they formed Ultimate Barranquilla (UB) as a space to connect all the teams, consolidate them, and help them find new players and places to train. David Garizado, one UB’s creators, said that organizing the sport from scratch hasn’t been easy, especially because all the economic resources must come from the athlete’s pockets. “The fact that we are the only ones with the responsibility of maintaining this practice has led us to have stages with lots of motivation and lots of participation, but also periods of discouragement due to the constant fight to make things possible,” he stated.
At the moment, the Ultimate teams can’t rely on a fixed place for training. Their two weekly sessions rotate depending on which school or organization is willing to offer their field. “We train in areas where we have contacts who can talk the principals into lending us their spaces. Colegio San José, the German school, and Universidad Autonoma are institutions that help us most with their facilities. Sometimes when the training is at night, they might charge us for the power, but usually, we don’t have to pay to use the space,” Garizado said.
At this time, what they are seeking as an organization is not money from the local government, but rather their support in finding a place where they can train, organize exhibits and offer regular tournaments. Giselle Villalobos, UEPA´s captain, explained “This is a sport that doesn’t require much investment because it only needs the people and a Frisbee to be played. A flying disk is much cheaper than a football, and we can provide that. But we are finding it very difficult to locate a field of our own because the space required is quite large – half of a soccer field.”
Right now, the teams are getting ready for the beach tournament that is starting this month in Santa Marta. Their goal is gaining the experience necessary to be successful at the National event coming to “La Arenosa” in October. “Now is a good time for Ultimate in Barranquilla, and holding this annual, national-level event here at home, shows that our efforts are on the right track,” Garizado proudly said.
The National Championship in October was recently approved and will be the first ever to be played in the city. The event will start on the 14th and will go until the 17th of that month. The Classification for this cup comes from an annual ranking based on regional tournaments. Both Garizado and Villalobos said that they are in the stage of organization and that their main concern for now is confirming the availablility of the fields where they will be playing. They’re anxiously awaiting a wink from one of the educational institutions located in the northern part of the city.
Ultimate Barranquilla hopes that the sport will really start growing after the first official tournament. For quite awhile, they’ve been looking for an event like this to open the eyes of the average Barranquillero to the sport and interest people in learning more. “The absence of referees and the game spirit drew the attention of universities, but with the publicity that will come, the outside audience will also be aware of how easy is to play it and how much fun is it,” Garizado said.
The club managers of Ultimate Barranquilla explained that being part of a team as a regular player takes only between two or three months. Many kids learn the sport in their schools and already know the rules and how to play. If you want to join us, whether you know the rules or not, all you have to do is contact us through Facebook or email. We’ll reach out to you and give you all the information you need. We’ll invite you to some training sessions and before you know it, your name will be on the roster. Both the male and the female teams have doors wide open for people interested in joining, “We invite everyone to find us on our different social media so they can experience Ultimate” Garizado and Villalobos exclaimed.