On day 4 we were rewarded with an extra hour of sleep because of the late night spent painting t-shirts. So we went straight to the fields by 7 am and to my surprise, all the campers seemed really low on energy even though they had gotten an extra hour. We asked them what happened and then realised that they hadn’t done the “Waka Waka” dance routine warm up today. The morning was assigned for scrimmage, to iron out kinks and practice any plays we might want to run.
The beginning of the tournament was marked by a parade to the field from our accommodation site, it’s a little below a kilometre . The kids danced their way to the fields with drums and were definitely kicked about the prospect of starting the tournament. There were two sessions to the tournament, Day 4 evening and Day 5 morning session. After that was the closing ceremony, where every camper received a Disc, a photo of their team and a certificate of participation.
In the previous day’s coaches meeting we had spoke about the intention of the tournament. We debated about whether we should have a finals or not. While a few thought exhibition of good skills and plays by their peers will act as an inspiration for the others to improve their skills. Since most of our coaches are a bunch of hippies in thought, we disagreed and decided that finals is unnecessary at this level. It was decided that each team would play 4 matches each. There were no winners or MVPs announced. We had just two rules that needed to be followed since we were dealing with excitable campers.
1. If they are involved in a fight they would sit out the entire game.
2. It they teased or bullied people and exhibited bad spirit the coaches had the authority to make them sit out for a minimum of 10 minutes.
There was one instance of a camper being pulled out for bad spirit. He sat out the entire game and according to the coach he exhibited better spirit the next game accepting his fouls. There were many close games and there were 4 games going on at any given time. The campers found a way to communicate over their language barriers. Ultimate acted as the even playing field where campers from various backgrounds could interact without any inhibitions. The side lines were always full of coaches and campers dancing to music, each team that didn’t have a match was assigned to cheer for some other team that was playing.
Every team followed the rule of thumb of equal game time regardless of skill level and we explained why we were doing this to the campers. The senior players helped out the beginners, there were some instances where the senior campers would want to win and not come out or be obsessed with the score. One of the coaches told his team that points don’t matter, they aren’t playing to win and that they were playing to swing, cut and learn. Every coach echoed this in their own ways.
I was trying to pick one favourite moment that stood out for me from the camp, that got me thinking about what I enjoyed and what I didn’t. The truth is I enjoyed every moment of it, even the difficult parts. Taking responsibility for the safety of 10 kids over 5 days is no easy task, they tend to disappear a lot and doing head counts at every point and finding the missing piece is tiresome. I learned something even from worst experiences and thoroughly enjoyed being part of India’s first youth ultimate programme.
The camp not only brought the kids together, it also brought the coaches together. I got to spend time with some other city coaches, even though we have known each other by face for quite a while we don’t really get time to interact with other team players during tournaments.
P.S Here is the link to Team 6,7 and 8’s photo story.
We could barely keep our eyes open on the last day of the camp, hence the delay in posting the updates. (Sorry about that again). I hope you guys had as much fun reading as I had while writing this!