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Teams up for ultimate challenge at frisbee world champs

Jul 21st, 2014 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News, Sport

FLYING HIGH: (from left) Genesea Meha and Amie Lightbourne practice for their upcoming World Champs match in Italy. IMAGE CREDIT: Tess Nichol

FLYING HIGH: Genesea Meha (left) and Amie Lightbourne practice for their upcoming World Champs match in Italy. IMAGE: Tess Nichol

TWO Wellington- based teams will represent New Zealand at the Ultimate Frisbee World Championships in Italy this year.

The Wildcats and Artemis, their female counterparts, leave in just under two weeks and despite not yet being household names, the players’ enthusiasm for their sport is unrivalled.

“When you mention you play Frisbee the most common first thought people have is that you throw a frisbee around with your mates,” says Wildcats team member Matt Dol.

“A lot of the time it’s quite bizarre to them that it is an actual sport with teams and rules.”

While Ultimate Frisbee does have a strong social element to it, this is a sport like any other when it comes to training and player commitment.

A typical Monday for Mr Dol involves three hours of practice, administration work for the leagues and working a full- time job.

“And I don’t hate it, it’s awesome,” he says.

The teams secured bids to represent New Zealand off the back of their performances at the 2013 New Zealand Nationals and have spent the last eight months training together.

Mr Dol says in that time the players have become like family.

For Artemis team member Bekah Neal, some of the players actually are family.

She is one of four siblings going to Italy.

The family has always been sporty and she says they were all drawn to ultimate after their eldest brother started playing more than seven years ago.

Ultimate Frisbee has no ref, which “breeds great sportsmanship between players,” says Mr Dol,

He says this mutual respect translates off the field and it’s not unusual for two teams to follow a high intensity match with a few drinks together at the pub afterwards.

It’s mostly a university- based sport and is particularly popular in the United States.

Even though the sport is starting to grow in popularity in New Zealand, securing the $150,000 to send each team on the trip required a lot of effort.

Artemis went down the traditional routes of sausage sizzles and selling chocolate, while the Wildcats have set up an online donations page.

Any costs not covered by fundraising will come out of team members’ pockets.

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