|That's what Gary Eisenberg, a native of Santa Cruz, California, arrived in Thailand with to start ultimate frisbee. "When I came here there was no organized disc," Gary explains, "but there was in practically every other major city in the region - Taipei, Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul, even in Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur."|
Eisenberg, who has since returned to America to study law at Georgetown University described the game before he left: "We play a series of short five to seven point games. The teams are composed of seven players per side and typically we have between sixteen and twenty people, which is critical in the type of heat we are playing in. But it is always a different group of people every weekend. Our team is called Soi Dawgz in honor of our favorite canine denizens."
Last year, the Soi Dawgz competed at the sixth annual Hong Kong ultimate tourney. The tournament featured teams three teams from Hong Kong, the Bangkok side, and teams from Taipei and Beijing as well. The Dawgz made it to the semi-finals losing to the eventual champion Taipei `Renegade Province' Ultimate. The other teams acknowledged the Bangkok's side sportsmanship and intensity though as the Dawgz were given the `Spirit Award' in recognition of their standard of ultimate fair play.
Writer James Fahn a member of the Soi Dawgz, explains his passion for the game: "I've enjoyed tossing the disc around since I kid, and I've always enjoyed playing team sports like soccer, volleyball, basketball, whatever. Ultimate allows me to do both. It's actually rather odd that I've never played ultimate before the Bangkok Soi Dawgz were created. But I guess the opportunity was just never there.
"It's an ideal sport in many ways. It's non-contact but highly athletic and a good workout. And it lets you work on a variety of skills. Unlike American football, for instance, you get to be both passer and receiver, and get to play both offense and defense."
Financial Post correspondent Ted Bardacke, who assumed the mantle of leader of the Dawgz when Eisenberg left, traces the roots of the game to the US in the late 60s. Ted has been playing the game himself since high school back in San Francisco and his college days at Wesleyan.
He compares the game to a combination of football, soccer and basketball. You score similar to the way you would in football: you get one point as someone passes you the frisbee while you are over the goalline. But the flow of the game is like soccer in that it never stops, if one team intercepts the disc, play keeps on going. The basketball element comes in when you catch the frisbee in play; once your forward motion stops you have ten seconds to pass the frisbee off your pivot foot to one of your teammates.
Bardacke also says the sport tends to attract good athletes who just don't like the hierarchy of more mainstream athletic pursuits and the authority figures that tend to attach themselves to those sports.
When you think of ultimate frisbee players you tend to envision Californian beach dudes with long hair sporting headbands and tie-dyed shirts, smoking joints, hanging out and speaking a language that is incomprehensible to anyone except themselves. Well, that rich heritage of the game will always exist, but if you look at the players tossing the disc back and forth at the Mo Pan Neug military field you will find a lot of professionals in their early-to-mid-third thirties that definitely do not fit the grunge mold.
But, one would have to say that ultimate players are cool. They are relaxed, laid back and they seem to care a lot about each other. There are no referees in ultimate: the players regulate the game themselves. As Bardacke says, "No one will intentionally break a rule to take an advantage."
The beauty of ultimate frisbee is that all you need is a field and a frisbee. Ted Bardacke sums it up best when he says, "If you have desire and a good attitude there's a space for you in the game."
The Soi Dawgz play every Saturday afternoon from about 4:00 pm at the Mo Pan Neug military field near the Sanam Pao Skytrain stop. If you want to more info check out: www.soidawgz.com or email organizer Michael Riley at: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org