The World Under-23 Ultimate Frisbee Championships are on in London, and for the first time ever, India’s participating!
At the moment, the championship is still at the pool stage, but India’s doing alright! They’re participating in the Mixed category, which means at least at least three players out of a team of seven have to be female. (Boys and girls on the same team, how cool is that?) Considering this is the first-ever international tournament the team is playing (earlier, the team had won the Bangalore Ultimate Open, held in June), they’ve won one match out of four, and have raked up the highest points of the 12 teams in their division so far for “Fair Mindedness” and “Positive Attitude”. In this self-refereed, non-contact sport, points for “spirit” count towards the overall score. Maitreyi Ananth, a member of the national team from Chennai, says she appreciates the fact that the game is self-regulated – “It’s up to players to call a foul, for example, and I think that’s what makes the sport really unique.”
Lots of firsts for the Indian team here – it’s the coldest weather they’ve ever been in, it’s the first time they’ve had to camp in tents for accommodation, and for some of the players, it’s the first time they’ve ever been abroad. Srijan Bhatt, a member of the team from Delhi, says that over 70 percent of the team’s players are from underprivileged backgrounds – the Ultimate Players Association of India, which put the team together, selected players based on skill and spirit, and later looked for funding to send the entire team, including those who couldn’t afford it, for the tournament. “With athletes from Surat, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Auroville, Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi and a head coach from Australia, this truly is a diverse team,” says Bhatt.
Yesterday, the team won against Ireland, the video for which is embedded below. At 19:45 on the video, you’ll hear this crazy conversation between the commentators:
Commentator 1: “If the Irish are representing the North – House Stark – what can we say the Indians are representing? Maybe House Tyrell or House Targaryen? I mean, I don’t know how far with this Game of Thrones reference you want to go.”
Commentator 2: (An Irishman, and clearly taking the GoT references very literally) “I think they’re more like Braavos.”
Commentator 1: “Braavos? Okay, I can go with that. So, House Stark with their hands up, awaiting the pool from Braavos.”
Commentator 2: [Sings the GoT theme song while the other chuckles.]
Braavos isn’t one of the Seven Kingdoms. It’s a small, wealthy city-state known for its swordsmen and seafarers and olive-skinned people. Should we be grateful he didn’t say Dothraki, or is that so first season?