In June, the 2016 World Ultimate and Guts Championships were held in London, based at Watford FC’s training ground.
Ultimate is a fast-paced, non-contact, but high intensity, field sport played by two teams of seven players. Like most people I know, I first encountered it five years’ ago at university. What sets it apart from other sports is the lack of referee or any form of umpire, with players themselves responsible for officiating the game. The World Championships occur every four years and are the highest level of competition within the sport, which has recently been recognised by the International Olympic Committee, making it eligible to be included at future Olympic Games.
This is the biggest tournament of the sport’s four year calendar, and definitely the most significant tournament held in the UK for a long time, so I knew that I wanted to be involved in some way. I also have friends who play for a number of national teams who were competing, so it was a great chance to get to see and support them.
I was one of over 200 volunteers helping to make the week-long event run smoothly in a role similar to “Games Makers” at the London 2012 Olympics. Whilst some volunteers were focused on one specific aspect, such as assisting with catering or the press and media teams, I was one of many who did a bit of everything. Over the course of the week, I helped set up marquees and barriers at the venue, checked tickets, answered questions from players and spectators, picked up litter and collected lost property at the end of each day. I also got to watch the sport played at the highest level whilst score keeping games. The highlight of the week was being able to be involved in the medal ceremonies for the men’s, women’s and mixed finals held at Allianz Park in front of 10,000 spectators, as well as live-streamed online, and televised in the USA. The genuine appreciation and thanks from so many of the players, made the early starts, late nights and lack of sleep worth it.
A total of 123 teams, from 38 countries, competed across 6 divisions at the event, with the USA (where the sport originated) dominating, and picking up gold medals across the board – unsurprising as many of their players are professional athletes!