How long has your country had Ultimate?
Does your country currently have:
There are no leagues in our country.
Club Teams? How many? Are there dominant club teams?
Currently, there are three club teams in Slovenia. In the capital city Ljubljana there is the team Frizmi that started with Ultimate, and made it possible for the sport to grow in our country. It is also the dominant team in Slovenia. The other two club teams are VertiGo, from Nova Gorica, and Cosmo-Disc from Maribor.
University or College teams? How many?
Youth (under 18-years-old) teams? How many?
None, although most of the players on Cosmo-Disc are under eighteen.
A National administration for Ultimate?
There is no national body that takes care of Ultimate, but the three club teams are working diligently on establishing a national administration that will help develop the sport on a larger scale.
Where or how do most people learn about the game?
The best learning opportunities are tournaments. Most of us were put on the field knowing the basics of the stack motion and force-side defense against a much more experienced team. The first three tournaments often are an explosion of knowledge, so we find the tournaments to be the most effective way to learn. Players often dedicate their free time to reading, and learning about the sport from all sorts of Ultimate books and take great interest in Ultimate activity all over the world, trying to reach a higher level of understanding the game.
Where do most people play?
The summer season starts in April. In that month, most of the teams go outside and play on grass soccer fields. In the winter season, starting with November, we begin playing indoor Ultimate. The shorter indoor field and fast, more dynamic game is quite different from playing on a grass field. The passes must be right on the person and deep throws are always a threat (even the weak throwers manage to complete them). There is quite a problem in finding a decent place to practice during the winter season, because of the lack of sport centers and gyms.
Do people in your country play in or against other countries?
Because we are such a small country (only two million of us) and because the number of clubs in Slovenia is small, teams do not hesitate to go abroad and visit neighboring countries for tournaments. A few times a year, the three club teams get together and play each other, to see how they are evolving, and to learn from one another. We are hoping that next year we will have more than three teams participating in a National championship.
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?
As mentioned earlier Ultimate in Slovenia has existed for only a few years and you can imagine how hard it is to start a new sport and keep it alive in such a small country like ours. Because our numbers are small, this responsibility falls on every single member of the Ultimate community, so everybody has done their share for the sport just by nagging a friend to come and see what practice looks like, and potentially winning over a new player and propagating the sport, which we all know is not a piece of cake.
Among those enthusiasts there are people that keep everything rolling and deserve to be pointed out:
Damijan Marin: A student of Faculty for Sports at the University Ljubljana, who went to the US for a summer camp, and for the first time saw Ultimate in action. It was the love at first sight. The second he set foot back on Slovenian soil he started working on the first Ultimate team in Slovenia later called Frizmi. He introduced the sport to some friends and students, who later became an essential part of the team. He is now president of the club.
Marko Dreu: After Damijan could not find the time to teach Ultimate as a sport program at the faculty, Marko, who was one of his students, decided to take his place of being an "Ultimate missionary". Marko (a.k.a. Static H) does a great job coaching Frizmi, is writing a thesis on Ultimate and is putting together the material for the first ever Slovenian Ultimate book.
Gregor Johannes Szith: An Austrian player, who in his 12-year career has helped an endless number of young teams to grow, among which was also Frizmi. Gregor had no second thoughts about traveling great distances from Graz to Ljubljana, to popularize the sport in Slovenia. His home team is Catchup (sic?), situated in Graz (in neighboring Austria). Without him, Slovenian Ultimate would not exist on a level as it does today.
Bostjan Babic and Nejc Kodric: Soon after the first club was founded, the interest for the new sport started growing. Nejc and Bostjan are the creators of the other two club teams, situated on the opposite ends of Slovenia. Bostjan Babic started his team VertiGo in 2006 in Nova Gorica, near the Italian border. Nejc Kodric did the same in Maribor and started the team called Cosmo-Disc in 2008. They both contributed to the development of Ultimate, and brought the sport across the country to new people. They spent a lot of time explaining the rules, propagating the sport and raising its popularity.
Josh Champagne and Greg Connelly: Josh is an experienced player who played for Brown University, but he now lives in our neighboring country Croatia. He helped Slovenian players and equipped them with a large variety of drills, skills and plays. He gave another perspective to the sport, helped us understand the rules and gave us deeper "on-field" knowledge of the game. Josh also coaches a team called Flying Disc Club Zagreb in Croatia.
Greg "Scoops" Connelly is the coach of Boston Ultimate team Ironside, who finished second in the 2008 UPA club championships. He has also coached a number of teams all across the world. In the US, Greg is a respected and well known observer of the UPA championships. With a big help from Josh, who first made contact with Greg, we managed to get him to our part of the world and organize a two day event, where all the people in the region could come to develop their skills and learn from coach Scoops himself. The event was called "Scoops Camp" and was a great opportunity for improvement of our play third year in a row. Coach gave us a number of interesting drills and during the two day period we could practice, scrimmage and found answers to questions that were bottled up for a year. We hope it will become somewhat of a tradition for him to come to Slovenia and work with new people, have fun and help us evolve.
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?
Where to begin... There are huge ideas coming from all over Slovenia, ideas about propagation and development. The first step would be the translation of the official WFDF rules into Slovene and creation of a national administration. As I mentioned earlier people are already working on writing the first Ultimate book in the Slovenian language, but between writing and publishing there is a huge gap that we can not fill on our own. The cost of self publishing and printing out 500 samples is currently 800-1000 USD. We have been trying to promote the sport by organizing tournaments and different events, but it is hard to find big sponsors for an unknown sport. In order to win over some financial help, we have to bring the sport to the people. We believe that by starting to work with younger people is the right way. But to organize junior practices time and money are needed. We definitely would have no problem finding people willing to work with kids, but we would also have to invest in equipment and in a suitable place for practice. The discs, speed ladder, cones and other equipment needed to make a quality practice for kids would roughly cost 300 USD and the place for practice during the summer season another 1000 USD. To continue, there is a great deal of promotion material to spread across the country. We have been actively organizing events in favor of the sport, as far as our finances allow us. With the help of UPA there is great progress to be made in organization of such events. Every year in Slovenia a big Sport fair is organized. All the leading sport clubs in Slovenia have their place on that fair which is a great opportunity to get noticed. To guaranty a spot we would need additional 500 USD. Our goal is to produce a short video of the sport, we are presenting, so that we can play it at presentations and on television. For the making of a quality video we would need a camera crew and a graphic technician, who all together cost 600 USD. As we all know, the Internet is becoming the favorite medium in all homes, so we are trying not to stay behind. People from Frizmi already have a fully functional web page (www.frizmi.si), with all information about the sport, practices, tournaments and media. The next goal is also to establish a web page, intended only to present Ultimate in Slovene language. In order to do that, we need to purchase an Internet domain, which for our country costs 230 USD and to take care of the content.
Every country has a different 'style' of play...what is yours? (This question is particularly interesting to North American readers!)
In principal we play very safe and dynamic game. A three-handler offense gives us the chance to swing the disc at any given moment. We generally stay safe on offense with few short risky passes and we are low on IO. We do however like long throws (we think it is better to turnover the disc in their zone then ours) but still the long/short goal ratio is somewhere between 3/7.
The types of offense we play are: vertical and horizontal stack, split stack and some variations of these basics. We have few agreed or preset plays, but mostly make all our arrangements on the line, which derive mostly from the stack plays above. The safe style of offense is very effective against a zone, for example, because there is no mental switch to be made in a game and therefore no pressure.
On the other hand we play very strong and physical defense. It is based on hard work and no poaching (one cannot work hard on the mark, so that his thrower can hit an easy poached dump). The two most commonly played are man and zone defense. In man defense we usually start marking straight for the first few passes and choose a side somewhere in the middle. We do so to prevent long throws from the start. The preferred zone is 3-3-1 with first cup forcing sideline or middle. Lately, with some help from coach Scoops, we have also been practicing Clam defense. We stay focused on opponent's weaknesses and adjust our play according to them.
What is next for the game in your country?
A starting step that we are about to take is the creation of a national administration. With it, we are hoping to have more people interested in supporting and playing the sport. We are also trying to raise the level of proficiency in preparation for World Club Championships 2010 in Prague.
Blaž is The Huddle's correspondent in Slovenia, and we are grateful that he contacted us and was willing to provide this information. Do you have information about Ultimate in a country that we know little about? Write to us! With your help, Ultimate communities around the world will know more about your presence, and may be able to help you in the future!