Ultimate Frisbee at Project KHEL
At Project KHEL we use the "power of play" and utilise sport as a tool to achieve developmental goals. Since 2012, we have played mainstream sports such as volleyball and football (soccer); indigenous sports such as kho-kho and pitthu and also our own customized versions of sports such as touch rugby, rounders and rumaal kabaddi with more than 2500 children on a regular basis. Through these sports we ensure we focus on values such as fair play, winning and losing magnanimously, following rules and promote behaviour change related to gender sensitivity, conflict resolution, honesty and so on. As a sport, Ultimate embodies all of the above and more! Ultimate checks all the boxes this article on The "right" sport to use in Sport for Development lists. Ultimate is a microcosm of life and the values learnt in this environment will carry the athlete through the sport and out the other side into life. The values include self belief, how to abide by rules, how to persevere and develop a will to win, how to get up after being knocked down and how to set shared goals with their teammates. (This is far from the ‘win at all costs’ mentality that most of the world is used to). Many schools, colleges and social groups use this fun sport to promote good sportsmanship and help participants develop conflict resolution skills. The on-field behavior slowly becomes a way of life and permeates into the players’ decision making in all aspects of their lives – Ultimate was designed to promote not only athleticism, but also character in a hyper competitive environment. When players step on the ultimate field, they are expected to empathize, they are expected to not cheat, they are expected to self-regulate and they learn to calm their temper. They learn how to remain highly competitive and yet not display any aggression or poor sportsmanship in the pursuit of remaining competitive.
Ultimate Frisbee @ Project KHEL
At Project KHEL, our aim has never been to produce sportspersons, rather to harness the power of sports to achieve developmental goals. With this overarching understanding, we have not taken up opportunities to create and field teams in football/ cricket/ volleyball, etc. even though we have had facilitators who have played these sports at the state and national level. However, as described in Why Ultimate, this particular sport embodies everything we do through sport at Project KHEL. Our founder, who played a bit of Ultimate in Austria in 2001 and in Chennai in 2010, introduced the concept of "ultimate" in Made in Maidaan in 2013 for our children who had reached a level where they could play a game without a referee. Thus, we had games of Ultimate kho-kho and Ultimate Pitthu where the players would self-regulate. In 2014, we took 11 of our children to an Ultimate Frisbee youth camp - Bridging the Gaps - being held at Ahmedabad. These 11 children came back to Lucknow and introduced the skills they had learned to our facilitators and other children. Soon frisbees were flying at Made in Maidaan sessions at 20 different locations in the city - being thrown by over 1300 children! At Project Khel, Ultimate is used as a tool to imbibe and develop important social skills - self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, relationship skills, and social awareness - that enable children to effectively manage themselves and their relationship with others. In the recently concluded Rio Olympics (2016) two athletes were awarded a rare medal for displaying sportsmanship. Just as on the Ultimate Frisbee field, at Project KHEL too, this behavior is the norm and not an exception!
In November 2015, we finally took the step of building a competitive team and Awadh KHELadis was born. A team comprising mainly of children from disadvantaged backgrounds, the Awadh KHELadis practice on Sundays and played their first tournament at Ashoka University in 2016. Team practices are in a public park and open to anyone so if you want to learn the sport or already play Ultimate, do get in touch with us!
What is Ultimate
Ultimate, more commonly known as Ultimate Frisbee, started almost 60 years ago in the United States. Today, it is a sport played by over 7 million people across 80 countries. It is a self-officiated mixed gender sport where different genders play together on the same line. SOTG or Spirit of the Game is the most important component of this sport. An athlete who had won multiple medals at the national games was asked a question, ‘Does one get any recognition playing this sport?’ the answer was quick and simple – ‘No’. We have over 2000 players in India and the number grows by the day. None of these players play because they are forced to. There is no money or autographs or medals. The incentive system of this sport is simple – a player embodies the values this sport offers.
- Ultimate requires jumping, running, diving, and throwing a disc so players have to be agile and quick on their feet. They have to be strong and focused throughout the game.
- Ultimate requires teamwork and togetherness. If the team loses, they support each other and if the team wins they celebrate together.
- Ultimate is intensely physical and includes a mix of measured teamwork and bursts of individual athleticism.
- Ultimate is a self refereed sport, so it's a must for players to have a prominent voice during the game. It's also critical that players make rational calls with their opponents.
- Ultimate is governed by Spirit of the Game™, a tradition of sportsmanship that places the responsibility for fair play on the players rather than referees; a philosophy which emphasises sportsmanship over competition; and camaraderie above all else.