KOTA KINABALU: The biggest international Ultimate Frisbee tournament in Borneo will be held for the eighth time this weekend, with international participation from the United States, Great Britain, Australia, France, Canada, Germany, China, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Philippines and Brunei.
The two-day event this Saturday and Sunday (March 3-4) will see some 270 participants converge in the city for a weekend of Ultimate frisbee, a sport which has risen up in the ranks of budding niche sports.
“The tournament is bigger than ever, with about 10 per cent increase in participation also thanks to word of mouth that Kota Kinabalu is a great place to visit,” said Dinoza Mahruf, the tournament director.
Some 750 people had bid for a slot in the tournament, a record high, but due to the limited field capacity, the organisers could only accept some 270.
This year, organisers also chose to include 16 students from rural Sabah to participate in the tournament and gain valuable experience.
“We have always aimed to have this tournament be a catalyst for the development of Ultimate frisbee in Sabah so we wanted to support schools that showed a keen interest in the sport,” said Dinoza in a statement Friday.
The students, aged between 15 and 17 years, are from SMK Talaga in Pitas and SMK Langkon in Kota Marudu.
A great effort was made by teachers from the respective schools to make their participation a reality including a public donation to raise funds for the student’s transport and accommodation.
“We are excited to have the students join us this year and hopefully this will be able to spur the growth of the sport in schools here,” said Dinoza.
The tournament, in its 8th run, started in 2010 with 36 players, mostly locals as a way to raise awareness among Sabahans for the niche sport, which was unknown to many.
“The way the tournament is structured, many newer players will be exposed to a different playing style and learn a lot from their teammates over the two day period,” he said.
The tournament has consistently attracted new travellers to the State, as well as repeat international participants who have been coming for the last few years.
“We are told that people keep coming back and spreading the word of the tournament partly because Kota Kinabalu is a destination worth visiting,” said Dinoza, adding that many try to tie up their visit with a climb up Mount Kinabalu, island hopping, scuba diving, white water rafting as well as visit other tourist attractions in Sabah.
Ultimate Frisbee is a mixed-gender, non-contact sport involving the use of a frisbee disc that combines the exciting aspects of soccer, football, basketball and netball.
Participants sign up as individuals and self-rate themselves accordingly to their disc handling skills, speed, knowledge of the game and experience. Players are then evenly distributed into random teams with a mix up of all ages, experience and skill level.
The format promotes camaraderie and friendships and evens the playing field for all teams. Members of the public are invited to watch.