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The plasticware is finally ours!

Flying Frisbees land in Chiang Mai

Chiangmai SportRoundup

The plasticware is finally ours!

Rick Mann

And so the final was upon us. For the first time in their three year history, the Faran-
gutans had a genuine chance to win some silverware - or in this case some rather fetching “plasticware”! Yes, the mini tournament which had been running over consecutive weeks in a wonderfully friendly atmosphere, culminated in a final showdown between hosts Pu Ka and the mighty Farangutans. A win and a draw in the previous games had set up this trophy opportunity, and one which all connected with the club were keen to embrace.

Farangutans football team

As 4 p.m. approached the match preliminaries were well under way - enthusiastic handshakes all round, and numerous team photos. Then it was down to the serious business. We began with a 4-3-2 formation - yes it was a nine-a-side match, a fact which had been unknown to me in the very first game, that saw me play throughout confidently believing we had a two man advantage!

The early sparring saw chances mainly fall to the Farangs - strikers Ross and Arek had opportunities, but these were blazed over. Pu Ka also had openings but Chris was standing firm in the Farang net. The midfield unit of Michael, Troy and myself endeavored to create some openings, but the pock-marked pitch, resembling the Stamford Bridge surface was causing its own problems. The searing mid afternoon heat was also tough and so when the referee blew for half-time it was with some relief that we could make for the shade and await an inspirational team talk.

This team talk fell into the hands of Warren. Now Warren has a dual role at the club, Team Manager and Kit Manager - roles that he plays with equal passion. So having rallied the troops with such motivational words as “glory”, “fight”, “pride”, “heart”, “passion”, “desire”, he then proceeded to remind us all that it’s a really tough job being Kit Manager and so at
the end of the game please, please, please remember to put all your dirty kit in one bag and all the clean kit in the other bag, I’ve told you before and I won’t tell you again. Well, given that it’s the last few words of any speech that will be most clearly remember, rather than tearing on to the pitch eager to get stuck in to the opposition, most of our players could be seen nervously looking for that “dirty kit bag”.

A certain amount of reorganization had been done at half time and the substitutes were ready and waiting. But it wasn’t the Farangs who made the first blow, rather it was Pu Ka who delighted the home fans by scoring first. A break down the right wing saw the defense sucked over and totally exposed by a tiring midfield in front of them. When the ball was crossed to the unmarked centre forward, he had all the time he wanted to fire past the helpless Chris.

Perhaps this was the jolt we needed, the prospect of our first trophy wasn’t going to be relinquished as easily as that. Five minutes later a corner was won by the Farangu-
tans. And with the defense still organizing itself, a drilled, low cross was met by Michael at the near post. His stooping header evaded the keeper, 1-1, and game on!

Belief and desire now flowed throughout the Farang team, the substitutes all playing their part. Some surging runs down the right wing by James saw the crowd rise to their feet on more than one occasion; Brian provided some much needed fresh legs in midfield and Ian battled away tirelessly at left-back. This game had really come to life with chances being created at will by both sides. Arek, continually a thorn in the Pu Ka side came close several times. One attack saw him outmaneuver his opponent before clipping a delightful cross to James, whose header from the edge of the box seem to loop in slow motion through the air before hitting the bar and bouncing to safety, much to the consternation of the Farangutan fans. A second goal wasn’t long in coming though - Michael began one of his numerous mazy dribbles in midfield, fed a neat pass to Arek who fired an unstoppable shot past the keeper high into the roof of the net.

Pu Ka upped the pace as the game descended into a frantic finale. Chris thankfully remained a stalwart between the sticks as Pu Ka carved out chance after chance. And credit must go to Lee and Tim for likewise standing firm. As they poured forward, gaps were left in the Pu Ka defense of course and perhaps the Farangutans could have made the last few minutes rather less tense. Arek will wonder how, after some excellent approach work, he managed to thrash his shot wide of the empty net.

The last two minutes seem to take over ten, but finally the referee called time and the celebrations could begin. It was a deserved victory, and bore testimony to our fighting spirit, skill and strength. Skipper Lee proudly raised the trophy that will take pride of place in the trophy cabinet of the UN Irish Bar, our faithful team sponsors. Strange hammering noises coming from the bar throughout Monday will be owner Sandy actually making aforementioned trophy cabinet!

And so thanks should be given to the tournament organizers who ran a competition thoroughly enjoyed by all. Congratulations to all the participants who played throughout in an excellent spirit, especially to a Farangutan team steeped in glory, victorious in adversity, bonded in their endeavour - now where’s that “dirty kit bag”?

Flying Frisbees land in Chiang Mai

Pat Black

While driving past the playing fields in Chiang Mai’s Payap University I saw some people chasing a flying dinner plate around, and when I stopped, James Fahn took time out from the game to explain the sport of Ultimate Frisbee.

If you’re old enough, you’ll remember the days when we never left for the beach without a Frisbee - that colored plastic disc, providing fun and exercise as it floated through the air between laughing friends.

Well, we may not see this instrument so much at the seaside these days, but James informed me that a full-blown international sport has been developed around it.

An estimated 100,000 established Frisbee throwers play in organized Ultimate competitions at the national and international level in over 50 countries including Sweden, Norway, and Japan, where the game receives government funding. And the skill became recognized as a medal sport at the 2001 World Games.

Apparently, Ultimate Frisbee arrived in Thailand when Gary Eisenberg formed The Bangkok Soi Dawgz in January 1998. By September the following year, the club was strong enough to send a side to the Singapore Tournament where they took a respectable third out of ten places.

Since then, Soi Dawgz teams have faired well in Bali, Shanghai and Hong Kong, and in 2002 they hosted their first annual Hat Tournament.

James enjoyed playing Ultimate Frisbee in Bangkok, but found nothing doing when he moved up to the northern capital. Therefore, he started stimulating some interest in Chiang Mai and up to now has around 20 people on his email list.

The Frisbee got its name from William Russell Frisbie, who opened a pie factory in the USA during the late 1800s. About 60 years later, the more boisterous of students at Yale and Harvard were seen tossing the pie tins to each other in the playground and they called the practice frisbie-ing.

In the meantime, inventor Walter Frederick Morrison was perfecting model UFOs ญ from pie tins coincidentally ญ when he ran into entrepreneurs, Rich Knerr and A.K.”Spud” Melin. Together, they proceeded to market a plastic flying saucer, which could be thrown between people for fun, and while promoting the product at Ivy League campuses, the kids told Knerr they’d been frisbie-ing for years.

Knerr thought that frisbie sounded good as a brand name and by either neglecting history or avoiding possible law suits he developed the Frisbee ญ same phonetics but different spelling. This led to sales that have exceeded one hundred million worldwide and created a sport.

Back at Payap, James explained that Ultimate Frisbee is a discipline that tests an individual’s sense of integrity, as there are no referees, even at the international level. It’s up to each player to be fair, honest and abide by the rules, which are a mixture of those from netball and American football.

In play, the Frisbee is thrown from player to player in teams of up to seven on a rectangular pitch with end zones. No physical contact is allowed and no one runs with the disc, which changes possession on a foul or when it’s dropped, blocked, intercepted or tossed out of bounds.

Goals or points are awarded when a player successfully takes a pass inside their opponent’s end zone and the first team to score 15 is the winner. This usually means that an Ultimate Frisbee match takes around 90 minutes.

James trotted back to the match and its male and female participants that comprised a mix of beginners to experts at ages ranging from teenage to 50. When play restarted, I was astonished at the amount of skill needed to find space away from the marker and pass the disc accurately and, when played at speed, Ultimate Frisbee is very pretty to watch.

The more experienced players soon raised the level of those just starting out, and it wasn’t long before most participants were mastering well-judged backhand throws and hucks - long passes.

After 100 minutes of competitive, but not too serious Ultimate, James called time and a group of weary but healthy Frisbee throwers trudged off the field looking calm and satisfied.

A reasonable level fitness is needed in Ultimate, especially in 7-a-side matches on a big pitch. But the joy of this game is no physical contact and a limited degree of difficulty from which to develop. Anyone can play and it’s far more exciting than jogging or aerobics.

“That’s right,” agreed James, “Ultimate Frisbee is not only great fun, but also an exciting way to keep fit and make new friends. So, everyone is very welcome to come by and join in.”

James can be contacted at [email protected] or Eddy Clark at [email protected]