Back in London, clapham are recovering from the week’s long slog, preparing for Tour 3 in Cardiff, Wales on the coming weekend. Worlds is over, and like elsewhere the domestic season continues. The week in Prague was a mixed one for us. Our objective was a quarter final, and from there who knows. We fell short however losing first to a superior Buzz Bullet team, and then later the same day a very close game against Calgary’s Invictus. The Buzz game was frustrating in as much as they forced us into playing a game we did not want to play. Mis-judgements, throw aways, coupled with an impressive long game by the Buzz left us out of sorts. We recovered well in our off game and were up for the Invictus game. Exact score lines are shady, we more or less traded until half, which they took 6-7 on an enforced time cap due to the heavy rain the day before – a bit annoying – enforcing a 40 minute time cap? whatever though. Second half we came out strong initially going up a break or two, but they quickly caught back with a few contentious calls and poor decisions. With 10-12 down in a game to 13, we brought it level before falling on the last chance. On score they deserved the win. They gutted out a few more passes, a few more gritty points. A bitter loss.
I’m not sure why it hurt so much? Disappointment in not winning for sure, not fulfulling potential maybe, not realising expectation, or just falling short. All feelings felt. The loss made us question our trainings, question our approach, and ask what might we have done different? Though some detail could have been better, individual decisions and such, what seems to stand out strongest is experience. The experience of the game to go, the game to go to quarters, to go onto something larger and more important.
What leaves us with Prague is a raw sort of feeling that we won’t get the opportunity for another 4 years to compete at this level, and even then, the competition might be somewhere where American teams might not travel in full pledge like in 2006, Perth. It begs the question: how are we going to narrow this gap of experience between the top and the rest? At the opening ceremony the president of wfdf spoke proudly of development grants they have created. I sat there thinking development grants? hmm. what could that mean? To grow the sport in under developed countries? to promote peace in the middle east? i am fully supportive of projects which use sport to bring people together to resolve whatever the issue, but frankly I came to Worlds to seek the highest level of competition possible. To pit my team against the best and see how good we are.
Last week we realised we still have a bit to learn. But what, we get to wait four years for the honours of trying our tactics again? It seems rediculous, and unfair. Surely WFDF needs to be supporting the sport in developed countries and what they need to be doing is coming up with a tournament format which increases the level of competition, worldwide. No? With our current squad we went to ECC last year and this year to the Texas showdown. In past years, the club has traveled to Chesapeake and the Boston Invite. They have been great opportunities for young players to pit themselves against America’s finest and learn they can compete with the elite. Teams in the four cities we have visited have been more than hospitable to us. They have welcomed us, supported us with in kind tournament costs, and provided us with great experiences.
What we want to know is how can we compete year on year in a competition that is of world wide quality? Is there not a clever way of allowing teams to join US nationals? one european, one austral-asian, one south american? Nationals has wild cards places and and strengths bids do they not? After Perth four years ago I asked the UPA whether they might consider such a proposal. They responded saying that they do their part in participating in WFDf sponsored tournaments and World Nations, that they would only consider countries that border the US ie Canada and Mexico. Though i do appreciate US Nationals is about teams from their geographical location, is there really not a place for widening participation? A radical reassesment of borders and a society where participation and access to opportunity is leveled? I get Nationals is about nations. I am half american myself and playing at college nationals was an amazingly american experience to have. thats not in doubt. I guess what I am trying to suggest is that US nationals could be about something larger and has potential to act on a larger scale to increase inclusion. For really, how else is the gap to be narrowed? Ideally we’d all be like the buzz, but they are sponsored by the Bunka Shutter and sadly they don’t have a monopoly on shutter making companies the world over.
So Prague is over. Lovely to see old friends and meet new ones. Great to have a go. Great to act like idiots with the team. We will carry on, we will fight for our tenth national champioship, and to reclaim our european title, and next year we will return to the states, stronger and hungrier than ever. We hope to see you there.
It was once remarked to me that if you don’t win a tournament, it feels better to finish 3rd than 2nd because you get to go home on a win.
When I first heard that years ago as a rookie it didn’t make sense – why would you want prefer to finish lower? But over the years I have become more atuned to wanting to end a tournament on a positive note, whether it be winning the last game, having a really fun match-up or even some sweet heckling in the final. The last thing you do together as a team can affect the impression you have of the whole event.
Redbacks didn’t have the week we wanted to. While we certainly gave many teams a run and had some narrow losses, we threw ourselves out of many games and we were down the bottom end of the bracket playing off for 45th place against LOL from Hungary. The score was 15-7 and the game was as good as over. I was on the line for the O point and Pete, one of our receivers, quietly said to me, “I’m gonna go. Let’s do it.”
A little backstory: There had been very little talk of personal stats during the week until our captain caught a goal on Day 5, proudly declaring he was “on the scoreboard.” To this point I was the last active player on 0. I play as an O handler and had been playing an ultra-conservative tournament, preferring to be reliable rather than huck it at will. Only one turn for the week but yet, zero assists and zero goals.
So back to the game, the pull comes in and the disc gets to me, around 50 metres from goal. The zone isn’t quite set and I can see Pete drifting deep. I wind up and let a picture perfect high floating huck go. Pete, as cool as ever, gets position and height over the two defenders and comes down with the disc… four metres short of the endzone. We then turned the disc and conceded the goal. With my head down, I headed towards the sideline.
My team however, had sensed the chance for one last small victory for the tournament – get Simon a stat. A timeout was called and a play was set up. Some of you may know it as the Reverse Moses. The pull comes in; one pass to Neil who jacks it in Pete’s direction. He pulls it down easily just shy of the endzone and calls another timeout. This time we set up a Moses endzone play, with me as the third cutter. Disc checked in… first cut… second cut… I take off and get in front of my marker. Pete puts the disc straight at my chest and I clap the disc between my hands. Cue my over-the-top celebration as my teammates storm the field in elation – we had set ourselves one final goal and we had done it.
Up to that point in the week, some of us were getting pretty down on the fact that we were dropping further and further down the table. LOL got the last point pretty easily to seal 45th spot, but at least we got to end our tournament on a high. I just hope that the 132 teams and the thousands of players that didn’t win a championship this week got their personal victory for the tournament and can go home with a smile on their face.
Thank you Prague, thank you Redbacks and thank you everyone else for an amazing week.
A really disappointing day today for us. We lost to the Woodchicas (Germany) in a pre-quarters game that was never close and then lost to Backhoe in the 9th place bracket. Our offense (and defensive offense) have really been struggling and it has showed the past couple of days. We play Storm and then either Leeds or Zephyr tomorrow. We’ve already adopted one of Leeds’ cheers as our own and we’ll be focusing on getting experience for the fall series and enjoying our last day with some of our teammates who will be retiring. And hey, we’re still in Prague.
This is a post partly borrowed from my personal blog with up to the minute info.
I spent a few minutes yesterday skyping family back in the U.S. And the cafe I borrowed computer time from has shopkeepers speaking Arabic, of course I was typing on a Czech keyboard, speaking English on skype, and trying out phrases in Russian, French, German, and more all day long with opponents, fans, new friends, and strangers.
Thats a little taste of the internationalism of the tournament and this city. Chain teammates, non Chain friends, ultimate fans, teams and supporters from all over the world have descended on Prague in an impressive show of love for the game, spirit for the growth of the sport, and of course some good old fashioned competition.
After three days of competition, Chain had only played four games. But in the next two we played five… the variance is mainly due to rainouts on Tuesday. I was really looking forward to trading night last night and it didnt disappoint. Hundreds of folks were showing stuff off and bartering for coveted jerseys and accessories.
Disappointments so far have been the laundry situation and the time allowed for sightseeing and partying… Because Im leaving right after the tourney, last week was for the non ultimate stuff. Now, naturally Im most looking forward to the semifinals tomorrow against Sockeye or Ironside.
Not sure the photos will work, but Ive tried to attach an image of the Chain worlds jersey and a depiction of the scene after Doublewides 20 minute discussion with Sweden about a catch and spike on the goal line.
Things to note thus far at Worlds:
Sockeye is staying in the dorms. Some teams worried about the comfort and noise level of the dorms, but it hasn’t been an issue. There are mutliple “blocks”(1 through 10, I believe), and many have a small bar or convenience store attached. Bar 10 has been a fantastic place to watch the World Cup games (projection screen in the bar), and I must say that watching the WC surrounded by teams of all nations is a special treat.
The weather has been hot (it’s getting very hot today), and hasn’t had much effect except for Tuesday, when the rains ended our Revolver game early. At 13-10 we had certainly put ourselves in a tough position, but it was quite unfortunate it ended when it did, as we had just scored a loooong O-point and felt a good momentum push on our side. It could have turned into a closer game, but again, we failed to put ourselves in that position early and paid the price.
While earlier days were certainly exciting, now is when it really gets interesting. The biggest game yet has to be Doublewide’s loss this morning to Viksjofors, not only an upset, but slightly controversial. Double-game point, Viks with the disc, they bomb a huck to a receiver who catches the goal and spikes it. But wait, DW calls not in. 20 minute conversation ensues, which I’ve been told included a phone call to the TD for resolution. The debate as I understand it (I wasn’t there) being that under USAU rules, an observer would’ve called him in or out and that would make the difference. However, without observers, it becomes an instant debate, and therefore causes a stoppage of play and the disc becomes dead, without a turnover being possible. If I’m not mistaken, this was the final resolution, and Viks punched it in to send Ddub to the ninals and themselves into quarters this afternoon against Buzz Bullets.
Tonight we face Ironside and are excited. This should definitely be a winnable game for either side, making it a good showcase game. It’s too bad for us that the other showcase features Riot (against Huck from Japan), but oh well.
Thus far our road has been strong, and has certainly tested us. Our initial pool climaxed with a game against Heads of State that I’m sure they wish they could play again, going down 8-1 early and certainly not showing their true level of play. In power pools, the Swiss team Flying Angels proved a difficult team to topple and gave us a great match in the heat of yesterday, and Revolver was our hardest test yet of the tourney, making our offense work very, very hard to move the disc and giving our D all they could handle. They were by no means flawless, and our defense was getting looks, but we had a tough time keeping our defense on the field early on and this proved to be our demise as lightning called this one before any comeback could be mounted.
Finally, time has been hard to come by, surprisingly. Even with just two rounds a day (save for yesterday’s 3 due to the rain the day previous), I find myself constantly searching for time to get to the computer lab; with team meetings, team dinners, world cup games, and generally enjoying the tourney and the atmosphere (while trying to keep an eye on how I am feeling and what I need to do to prepare for each next game or next day), it’s quite busy. The sheer number of players here is astounding, and watching and listening to the interactions alone is enough to keep one entertained. This is a truly special experience for everyone here.