How long has your country had Ultimate?
The AFDA was started in 1977, I believe. The country first received the frisbee in 1976. The first Dingo team was in 1980. The country has had Ultimate in one form or another for about 30 years.
Does your country currently have:
Leagues? How many? How many people play in them?
I would say each major city has at least one league, and many have multiple. I have spent most of my time in Brisbane, Queensland, and can say from personal experience that we had four ongoing leagues, all at different levels of the game with different divisions (Mixed, Open, Women's). I am currently in Sydney and they have many leagues, from what I understand, all Mixed, with differing levels. Divisions associated to skill level, with all four of these divisions going on Monday, each division at a different field at a different time allowing people to play mutliple divisions.
In Brisbane, I ran the beginner league and was president of the society that organized it and we had six teams of 15 or so, giving us a membership of around 90 players. The intermediate league in Brisbane has 10-12 teams now of 14 players, which gives it a make up of around 165 or so players.
I know Canberra, Newcastle, Wollongong, Perth, Townsville, Adelaide, and Melboure all have at least one league, many have multiple.
Club Teams? How many? Are there dominant club teams?
There is around 10-14 legitimate club teams. There are dominant club teams and they usually are based in the major cities much like the US; the list is:
- South Sydney's Barefoot (core of Thong from '06 Clubs)
- North Sydney's Fakulti ('06 Clubs)
- Melbourne's Chilly ('06 clubs)
- Melbourne's Heads of State
- Brisbane's Firestorm
- Perth's Sublime
- Canberra's Fyshwick United
- Adelaide's Karma
- Newcastle's I-Beam
If you go to www.nufl.com.au you will get to see the National team which is made up of the top 6 teams from national. This year, they took the core of the top 6 club teams, and meshed them with the top players from the remaining high finishers.
University or College teams? How many?
I would say there are around 30 Uni teams, with some reputations for success. Much like the US, the top uni teams fuel the players for the top club teams. The Unis are coached by top club players, and also much like the US, they have built reputations as competitors and can usually see the same unis being competitive to an extent, year after year. Much like the top clubs, they are in the major cities.
University of Queensland, the club I captained and was president of, got silver medal in '06 and gold medal at '07, seeing Macquarie University both times in the final. In '05, we qualified for the first time in a while and saw UNSW in the Quarters, who beat us to become eventual champions. In '07, we beat UNSW in semis to win. So, as you can see, there are some rivalries within the university level. Go here for some history: Austrailian University Champions History
Youth (under 18-years-old) teams? How many?
There are no real youth club teams, but there is a very small youth scene. In fact, I am helping TD the youth Ultimate championships. We had 6 open teams, and 6 womens teams i believe. www.youthnats08.thunder08.com/
A National administration for Ultimate?
The Australian Flying Disc Association, the AFDA, www.afda.com
The big goal of the Swiss Disc Sports Federation for the upcoming years is to become a member of the Swiss Olympics. A membership would mean to be accepted as a "real" sport, make it easier to get fields for practices or tournaments, and last, but not least, bring some money from outside into the sport (as so far every thing is payed by the players themselves).
Where or how do most people learn about the game?
I would say most learn about the game in Uni, as most Unis have beginner leagues which recruit through the O-week organizations stands. Also, they get recruited as a sport to play for recreation from their buddies, and join a beginner league.
Where do most people play?
They play in leagues and on club teams. The majority play in leagues, and those seeking an avenue for higher-end play and competition will join a club team to learn more tactics and play styles. This is done primarily in big cities as the density of people supports league play and such.
Do people in your country play in or against other countries?
Much like the US plays with Canada in most sports, Australia has a long history of international sport, from the Ashes in Cricket against England, to the Tri Nations in Rugby, we also play internationally in frisbee. New Zealand usually sends teams over for the club season and we subsequently will send club teams over for their club seasons. Singapore and a few other countries have been courageous enough to come down from time to time. Also, the Asia-oceanic championships were held recently in which Australia partook. Australia also has a long history of attending World Championships with the First Dingos going in 1980. Most recently, Australia won the World Championships of Beach Ultimate, so we do get our fair share of international play.
Have there been individuals that have been major contributors to the growth of Ultimate in your country? Who are they? What did they do that helped the game grow so well?
I would say single handily that Jonathan Potts (a Huddle author himself) has probably contributed most. He was instrumental in the success of the AFDA, being CEO for many years, and is an all around frisbee enthusiast through and through. He has helped setting up infrastructure, running events, mastering optimal draws for different size tournaments, logistics of tournament planning, and many other things. I believe he has founded many of the top teams including Thong, Feral, and the Dingos. He has coached many teams including Firestorm, UQ Lovers, Barefoot, and multiple womens teams. His enthusiasm for the game helps promote the sport and encourage others to take part and make a difference.
I know, in Queensland, Bruce McNaughton has probably been at the center of anything worthwhile frisbee-wise for the past 10 years. He helps with the state governing body, Queensland Disc Association (www.quda.org), and has helped many leagues and tournaments by providing equipment, setting up and tearing down, and promotion. Nothing would get down in Brisbane without him, and there are others from other regions.
What does your country need to continue to develop? If the UPA were to donate $3,000 to you to help develop Ultimate in your country, what would you do with it?
I would say the two things it needs to continue to develop is publicity and volunteers. I know that I held a position on the UQ club committee as President, ran the UQ league, ran multiple tournaments, was on the QUDA committee, and helped in my club team and on my university team. Many people have put in so much of their time forging ahead for our sport, but we need more people to contribute and help share the love of the game. As the saying goes, many hands makes work load light. It is also hard to get volunteers for events because most of the people in the frisbee community are going to play the events, so can't volunteer. Our community is still not large enough to have enough retired people who can contribute greatly. Everyone that has committed to the sport and love it and want to help do their best, but that is still a small number. You can't ask someone who has just found our sport and has been playing for six months to start organizing a league or volunteering to help run an event they would want to play in. So we just need more volunteers to help spread the game to other places and run the events.
The next big one which would subsequently help the first, would be publicity. This has been changing in the past few years, as we have gotten on TV a few times, but just getting our sport to the general masses. I would say that if the UPA gave us $3000, it might go into getting air time on TV with the Australian National Team playing, to show people another option in their sporting lives. I have talked to many people who have never heard of Ultimate and when I tell them about it, become intrigued and interested to give it a go. I am sure many would disagree with me, saying we could spend the money in other areas, which would be more benficial, and they might be right, but I feel a TV spot or other forms of publicity, which greatly help get our game out there in Australia.
Every country has a different 'style' of play...what is yours? (This question is particularly interesting to North American readers!)
I would say we have some major similarities to the US. However, because we are connected tightly with Europe in terms of immigration and such, we do get some influence from our ex-pats who move over there and subsequently return. I would say we still primarily run the vertical stack, sticking to the classics, but many clubs do run horizontal, and others split stack.
Much like the US, different regions adopt different fundamentals to their play style. However, with our European connection, we do run some German and British zones and offensive sets that differ from traditional American offense and defense. Also, having so many great players and thinkers of the game, we are constantly trying new ideas and ways of playing. Unlike the US, we are very experimental.
I know having just started a graduate degree in the states that the teams run their plays and just try to master the basics. No real innovation or intensive thought into developing new strategies, but more so optimizing the efficiency of what they have. Aussies are always evolving our defensive sets and offensive sets to see what works best and trying new things. All in all, each region truly does have its own playing style and own identity in the sport here in Australia.
What is next for the game in your country? What is one upcoming development, or what is a hurdle that Ultimate will have to overcome to continue to spread?
The biggest thing is just to grow in numbers. Our club teams did well at '06 clubs, but our typical club team does not have the depth to compete with a typical US club team. I would go on to honestly say that the Wisconsin Hodags would be a semifinalist, or better, at our club nationals. We just need to keep developing new players and growing to the point of the US, where we can have hubs of Ultimate where multiple world class teams can constantly compete, increasing the level of competition and level of skill.
At '06 worlds, we had four club teams that were legitimate to beat the US club teams that had come (in the open division). I know I read about many Americans that moaned, complained, and so forth about the quality and integrity of these teams as US representatives, but from what I knew, DoubleWide had brought basically their fulll roster, and had picked up a Sockeye player (Idaho). Thong and Chilly had both beat them, so we can create some top club teams, but they would be unlikely to ever make semis at the UPA Championships, and would fight hard to get into Quarters realistically.
To make a team that beats the majority of the US teams, we must take talent from all over the country. In '04, for Worlds, the Australian Dingos toured the US to play many of the Elite open teams. They played Furious George, Seattle Sockeye, Portland Rhino (think they were called Axe at the time), DC Electric Pig, Boston DoG, and another team or two, and only lost one game the whole trip, to eventual world champions Furious George. I think the sport is doing well in Australia and definitely developing nicely, but it still needs to increase in numbers to get to that same state of consistent high-level play.
We introduced the National Ultimate Frisbee League after '04 worlds to help make this a reality, and it is doing a great job, but still needs the numbers to continue the success. I woud personally say that is what we are striving for in the next few years.
We will be incredibly proud when we are at the phase where we can send the winner of the Australian Ultimate National Championships to Worlds as our representative!
Brett is an exciting young player. Having played for DFI (a youth team in Hawaii) and as a younger man in Australia, Brett now plays on the Aussie D squad, as well as NC State and Voltron. Brett is an energetic, smart defender who loves to huck on the fast break.