Rise of Ultimate Frisbee sport in Kenya

Kakamega Wolves Ultimate Frisbee

Ultimate Frisbee is among non-contact self-referred sport. Its played by two opposing teams each of them consisting of seven players.  The players play against each other with a flying disc called a frisbee. Frisbee is played on a field almost the size as soccer field but slightly narrower than a soccer field. At both ends, we have the endzone. The end zone and the narrow ends act as the scoring zones.

Each team during the play is expected to defend an endzone. A score is made by a player catching the disc on the opponent’s endzone. A thrower starts the game by throwing the disc to their teammates in any direction that they wish. The defensive team gets possession of the disc if an offensive team’s throw is not caught by a player from the offensive team. If an offensive team’s throw is not caught by a player of the same team, that team loses the possession of the disc. In that case, the defensive team now automatically becomes the offensive team and therefore can try to score in the opposite end zone.

Ultimate Frisbee relies on the spirit of the game that places the responsibility for fair play on every player. Being a self-referred sport, players are tasked with the responsibility for giving themselves directions during play. The players are therefore solely responsible for following and enforcing rules and regulations of the sport. Competitive play in Ultimate Frisbee is encouraged, that, however, is not at the expense of human dignity respect. Players are expected to have respect between them. They are also required to adhere to the rules and regulations of the game, and the basic joy of play.

Ultimate spirit of the game

Spirit of the Game is the mindful behaviour practised by players of Ultimate worldwide. It is usually prior to, during and after the game.  It encompasses attitude and skills such as good knowledge and applications of rules, fair-mindedness, safe play. Spirit of the game also encompasses spatial awareness, clear and calm communication, positive and respectful attitude towards teammates, fans and opponents. Spirit of the game is usually for one main reason which is to protect the joy of the game.

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Early development of Ultimate Frisbee

The idea of Ultimate Frisbee originated from the United States in the 1960s. The idea was first presented by Joel Silver in the year 1968. In that particular year, he introduced the sport to the Columbia High School student council in Maplewood New Jersey, USA. The first game of Ultimate Frisbee was played in 1969 between two groups of students at the Columbia High School. Since the flying disc had not been made to what it is today, the players used the Wham-O Master disc.

After the match, a team was formed in the institution and that led to the start of its growth.

Its first and second set of rules were drawn down in the year 1970. The drafters of the rules were, Joel Silver, Buzzy Hellring and Jon Hines. The first college ultimate game was played between Rutgers and Princeton on November 6, 1972.

On April 25th, 1975, Ultimate Frisbee organized its first national college championship tournament held at Yale University.

Ultimate Frisbee in Kenya

Ultimate Frisbee is among the fastest-growing team sports in Kenya. The tremendous growth of the game can be linked to Kenyan’s attitude towards sports and the need for diversity. Operations of Ultimate Frisbee in Kenya is usually overseen by Kenya Flying Disc Association (KFDA). Kenya Flying Disc Association is affiliated to the World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF) which is the global body governing the operations of Ultimate Frisbee.

Majority of Ultimate Frisbee players in Kenya are University students, expatriates and the working class whose organizations have accepted frisbee as a sport. The country currently hosts more than ten Ultimate Frisbee clubs. A good number of the existing clubs are affiliated to most institutions. Frisbee participation in Kenya is usually dived into two major conferences, that is the Western and Eastern conference. Depending therefore on the geographical location of a team, it’s a regulation of KFDA to ensure that a team is registered in a certain conference.

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The existing Ultimate Frisbee clubs in Kenya include Wolves Ultimate, Egerton University Ultimate, Kisumu ‘Blackfish’ Frisbee club, One Acre Fund (Bungoma), Maseno University Frisbee and Kaimosi University Frisbee club forming part of the Western conference of KFDA. In the Eastern conference, we have clubs such as Nairobi ‘Cool Waters’ Ultimate, Kabarak University Ultimate and Technical University of Kenya Ultimate. As a growing sport in the country, there are various teams that are still sprouting up. Some of the teams as a result of some challengers have not yet made it into the national championship to earn them visibility and recognition. That’s however to the cognizant that the sport is rapidly growing especially among campus students.

Competitions

Ultimate Frisbee in Kenya depends on various means of engagement to grow the sport. There exist opportunities where the established clubs are able to influence and help other upcoming clubs into the game. Under the umbrella of KFDA, teams in the conferences are able to organize joint training sessions so that to enhance and promote the sport. The various teams are also allowed by the governing body in Kenya to organize tourneys.

The sport currently has three major competitions that are organized within the country. In the competitions, we have the Lake Victoria Grass Ultimate Frisbee (LVGUT) normally held in Kisumu country. Other competitions are the Crying Stone Ultimate Tournament held annually in Kakamega and finally, the Frisbee East Africa Tournament (FEAST) organized yearly during Easter holidays in Tiwi Beach, Kwale county. KFDA from time to time again sanctions championship in the broader scope of developing the sport among Kenyans. To foster for a cordial relationship with the neighbouring nations, Kenyan Ultimate Frisbee clubs frequently takes part in other tournaments within the East African region. At the East African region, the clubs compete against teams from Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.

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Having received recognition from Kenya University Sports Association (KUSA) which is the governing body of University sports in Kenya, the sport can now be competitively played as an official sport in the university games. This has helped in giving exposure to the young talented players at the University to showcase their talents as well as grow the game. One notable region in the KUSA that has embraced Ultimate Frisbee is the Western conference of KUSA. At the University conference, the teams have been able to compete as part of the main sports that the conferences recognize.

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