By Baden Dowie (Zone Rangers)
I have always had a big passion for ultimate and education – and it is my greatest wish, hopefully within the next five years, to see Ultimate rocking high schools across the country demanding field space and time in their calendars. It may sound far-fetched but when you see that early upfield flick and the player going long to get it way out of their reach; bolting- the player stays on it, to launch into the air for the lay-out score. Far-fetched, absolutely!
My gut feeling has always been if 6-down touch rugby (started in 1995) could have such an incredible impact in schools, Universities and business corporations then so can Ultimate. Just imagine Ultimate running high school based tournaments and leagues, across the country, all at once.
Road to Gauteng Ultimate High School Tournament
At the beginning of 2016 my family and I re-connected with Robin Willis having last seen each other in South Korea as part of the Teach English in Korea program. We gathered to brain-storm what High School Ultimate may look like.
I was able to secure field space from Reddam House College Bedfordview – a great school that I taught at a number of years back. This was a reminder in “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Spontaneously the Principal and I decided a date – Saturday the 17th of September and suddenly the project became concrete and real.
Getting support from the wider Gauteng ultimate community has been brilliant, they have provided me with encouragement, support, suggestions, insights and evaluating viability. SAFDA has donated 10 discs and the GFDA has delivered huge support by donating 1,500 ZAR seed money to kick start the initiative.
We also hosted a Crowd Funding event at Pirates Club, appealing to the Gauteng Ultimate community to attend a Beer & Prego Fundraiser, with the funds raised (500 ZAR) earmarked to cover transport costs for two Orange Farm schools to the inaugural tournament in September. The evening was great fun and worked.
Sarah Kate Timm, Caleb Palmer, Shanley Henderson and Gareth Freese have brilliantly assisted in coaching Ultimate at Reddam House. We’ll be there for 11 weeks during the school 4th term and hopefully be there for the whole 2017. The principle of Schools paying coaches to coach their students Ultimate has been established. If you are interested in coaching Ultimate to high schoolers and are interested in having a coach at your school, please reach out to me!
We have been confronted with some challenges:
- South African schools have three terms, four terms or US calendar schools. Setting up competitions that includes all schools in SA has been difficult
- Some schools are already over committed and are unwilling to add an additional sport because their extra-curricular programs are already extensive.
- Finding enough coaches to supply the interested schools and ensuring coaches are paid for their time and skill.
- Finding the right fund generating system to which will effectively brand and position Ultimate in front of schools as an absolute necessity.
We have 5 high schools (7 teams) signed up thus far to compete in the inaugural tournament on the 17th of September – there is still time for your school to get involved, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to join in the fun.
With the huge success of the 2nd Annual Soweto Inter-Schools Tournament early this year, we have proof that a High School Ultimate tournament can also be a success. It is incredibly exciting and encouraging.
This is only the beginning – see you on the field !