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Ultimate Frisbee in Kota Kinabalu

Playing field - nice and big for a good run while playing Ultimate Frisbee in Sabah

Frisbee might not be new to the world, but it’s been since only two months ago that the popular plastic pie dish has been thrown around the greens of Kota Kinabalu.

Sabah Ultimate – Genesis

It was WWF Employee and Frisbee guru Ken Kassem that sent out an open invitation in September, announcing that Ultimate – as the structured game is called – had arrived on Sabah shores and would shortly take off.

And so it was then that a group of interested guys and gals gathered on a muddy rugby field in Tanjung Aru, to witness the first Ultimate Frisbee demo in Kota Kinabalu.

Every Sunday since then, the group has gotten together to play the game of Ultimate and interest has steadily grown since.

The group now averages up to 30 Frisbee players per session.

Frisbee – The Curious Case of the flying Pie Tin

The history of the Ultimate is inextricably linked to that of the Frisbee, which dates back as far as the 1940’s.

The first permutation of the flying disc was a pie tin from the Frisbie Pie Company, flung about for fun, not unlike what it is today, but with much less intent back then.

The first plastic mold that could be recognised as the modern Frisbee, was cast in 1957 and has since sold more than basketballs, baseballs and footballs put together.

The game of Ultimate is, however, more than just throwing a plastic disc back and forth.

The Rules of Ultimate

A game of Ultimate is played between two opposing teams that each have 7 players at a time on the field. The teams at most tournaments are of mixed-gender, unless it’s a women or the misnomer “open” (which for all intents and purposes are men) divisions.

A standard field includes the playing field proper, which measures 64m long by 37m wide, plus end-zones extending the field length on either side by 18m.

Each team starts every new point by standing on the inner edge of their respective end-zones, facing each other.

The first team throws the disc, called The Pull, towards the other team, who is then the Offense or the attacking side. The aim of Ultimate is to progress the disc into the opposing end-zone, where it’s to be caught for the score similar to American football.

When a player has the disc, they are not allowed to move. Pivoting on one foot is allowed, but the pivot foot is not allow to move away or off the spot at which it was initially established.

The throwing player has to pass on the disc within a ten-count, which a defender will count down.

If the disc goes to ground by being dropped, missed or knocked down by a defender, possession turns over and the Defence become the Offence and vice versa. Turn-over also takes place if a Stall Count is reached – which is when the attacker fails to throw the disc within the ten-count.

Ultimate games, even at tournament level, are not refereed and it’s through the Spirit of the Game – the first rule of Ultimate – that the sport is governed. Players call their own fouls, sometimes even on themselves.

Back to the Ultimate in Kota Kinabalu

Due to the lack of suitable playing fields, Ultimate Frisbee in Kota Kinabalu is played on a slightly smaller area, which makes for action packed games.

Games take place on Sundays at 4pm, and the average Ultimate Frisbee session will last for about 2 hours.

During the game of 7 aside, a rotation system is in place where whoever gets tired is replaced by whoever is eagerly waiting on the sidelines. With fast paced action and lots of energy spilled, swap-outs occur regularly, ensuring everybody gets plenty of playing time.

Currently the venue for Kota Kinabalu’s Ultimate Frisbee games is the rugby field in Tanjung Aru, immediately adjacent Terminal 2 at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport.

Everybody is welcome to come watch or play, regardless of age and gender. If you can run, catch and laugh (mostly at yourself), then Ultimate Frisbee will be a fun game to join.

The ability to throw is an optional starting-skill, that comes with practice, which you will be expected to do if you join regularly.

Ken is also always the willing teacher and regularly conducts short, mini-clinics on some technical aspects of the game, namely effective strategies and throwing techniques. But there is no replacement for practice.

So rain or shine, see you on the rugby field in Tanjung Aru on Sundays for a game of Ultimate Frisbee in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.