A lesser known sport, Ultimate Frisbee is bringing underprivileged kids out from a dark life and opening doors of opportunities for them. Know more about the amazing U23 team and how you can play a crucial role in supporting them.
M. Ganesan is the son of a construction worker. Living in a slum, Ganesan has lived a life he hated. Poor economic conditions only made it worse for him and he somehow found himself wandering aimlessly.
Just when Ganesan thought his life will forever be the same, a plastic disc came to change it forever.
Ganesan is not the only one who has benefited from this lesser known sport. Siva Raman has yet another success story to share. Hailing from Chennai slums, Raman too saw a very poor life. But once he started playing the sport, he got an opportunity to travel and participate in the World Championship which took him to Dubai. His excellent performance in the sport earned him immense popularity and even got him selected in the dream team of top players from the tournament .
The India U23 Ultimate Frisbee team is not only giving these underprivileged kids an opportunity to bring a change in their lives but also marking India’s place in this lesser known sport.
For most of us who are not very well versed with the sport, Ultimate Frisbee has been an unrecognized sport played mostly by kids. But this mixed-gender, self-refereed sport is recognized by the International Olympics Committee.
“Many people don’t even know about the sport. But we are gradually progressing. We are getting many kids on board and their interest and passion has increased to a great level,” says Bharath Devanathan from Ultimate Frisbee.
It all started in 2007 when a group of seven people played frisbee every morning on a Chennai beach. A nearby school for underprivileged kids encouraged them to participate in the sport and gradually the kids got so addicted to it that it changed the course of their lives.
In 2013, the Ultimate Frisbee association was officially formed and even got a coach from Australia. Having started with four to five people, the U23 organizing team consists of over 20 members who have helped in selections and tryouts for over 200 kids across India
The Ultimate Frisbee U23 team now has 24 players from seven cities of India who are capable of performing at the international level. The sport is not limited to underprivileged kids only. Kids and youth under the age of 23 belonging to any financial background can be a part of the team.
The USP of the team is that players from different economic circumstances are part of a single team. Not only this, as it is a mixed gender sport, it has given a great opportunity to girls as well.
“This sport is affordable as it requires just a disc. And unlike other teams and sports, anyone can join it irrespective of their financial status and gender,” says Bharath.
Thanks to this sport, there has been a tremendous positive change in the attitude of the kids. They have become more confident, revel in team spirit and have got a new aim in their lives. A few kids now go and teach in local NGOs too.
Though Ultimate Frisbee has come a long way since its inception, but it wasn’t an easy task to get everything in place. As the game is not very popular, it was a challenge to get kids on board and keep them motivated.
“When something as simple as 175 grams of plastic can teach a 15-year-old kid to take what he has learned from the sport and to apply it to his life, you know something pretty amazing is happening,” says the team.
In the next couple of years, the Ultimate Frisbee team wants to reach out to more schools and get more students on board. They also plan to organize various workshops and camps for the kids.
The team is preparing for the world championship in London but is struggling to get enough funds to sponsor their trips. As most of the players come from an economically poor background, they are unable to arrange the funds.