On Indian Ultimate

Posted by: on Jul 14, 2015 | No Comments

I was asked to jot down some thoughts about India Ultimate in advance of their trip to Under-23 Worlds in London. Didn’t quite make the deadline. They are currently playing their third game of the tournament. Perhaps, though, that makes some of what I planned to write even more appropriate…RA Grani




“50,000? 50,000 US Dollars? Really? You sure? That’s a lot of *&!&#$ money!”


I didn’t say that. I kept my face serious. My slight nod feigned faith. I was being told that India was going to raise $50,000 to send their Under-23 team to London for Worlds. Really though, I had my doubts. My own attempts at fundraising had never accumulated close to that amount. Nothing I had ever done in my life had earned that much.


Where were these doubts coming from though? I guess it was the magnitude of what India was going to attempt. But why should I doubt Indian Ultimate’s attempts to do anything? From meeting ultimate players and organizers, my knowledge of the country had moved beyond the traveller tales, delivery menus and films that had been my guides to the country before. India was more than “real poverty,” curries, and dance sequences. India was now a place of big and small dreams and people who could achieve them.


This discussion about Under-23 Worlds was taking place in Dubai at Beach Worlds, where India had sent three teams, teams that had played very competitively with some of the best teams in the world. Their mixed team had jacked up beautiful hucks against the would-be silver medalists from Canada. The open team had beat teams like Germany and Ireland on their way to a winning record on the week. Their open masters team had fought hard against some of the legends of the game. Competitive success was coming.


This is only what they have been achieving at the highest levels of competitive ultimate. Meanwhile, India Ultimate is also winning at film festivals. 175 Grams, about ultimate and personal growth in Chennai won an award at Sundance. They seem to have clinics everywhere including a combined ultimate and arts camp called Bridging the Gaps. Ultimate is becoming more than a game, but a bridge to personal development and different types of victories in life. Successes are coming off the field as well.


And it’s not only up and down the spectrum of ultimate competitiveness that India is focused. India is a very diverse country economically, linguistically and religiously. Ultimate has helped to bring folks together who may not have opportunities to meet and associate otherwise. I was told by one coach that the 20 players on the U23 team represent seven different cities and a variety of languages and religions. A “truly national team” he called it. Indian Ultimate is bringing a country together.


On all levels of the Indian game, an Ultimate culture seems to be growing: one of hard work, solidarity, and inclusion.


An additional major part of India’s successes has been strong leadership. It could just be that all the folks I meet and communicate with from Indian Ultimate are motivated and very intelligent. Or their strength might come from recent history and the fact that current leaders of Indian ultimate “earned” their way in and fought for their positions of leadership as opposed to some of us who fell into them. Whatever it is, those running the show in India care a lot and it shows.


In the end, obviously, they did raise the money to go. They are playing their third game of worlds as I write. They’ve fought hard but lost twice. They are fighting their way back against Germany now. Winning the tourney seems unlikely, this year, but that wasn’t their goal. They got to London and have played hard against some of the toughest teams in the world. From now into the future, if India Ultimate says they’re going to do something, I’m not going to consider betting against them.


Go India!



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