By Heather Martin (The Long Donkeys)
There was great excitement in the Donkey camp (not to mention on the wattsapp group) when we learned that we had been offered a place to play at the Binnelanders tournament for 2018. The team we ended up taking consisted of 10 men and 5 women with an interesting mix of experienced players (who had played or will play at world level) and newer players who had some promising frisbee skills but had not yet played in a tournament.
Our first game against the Dream team got off to bit of a rocky start because they were short on players, so we lent them two of ours in order to start on time. By Donkey standards we did not start off as we would have hoped, and Dream got some beautiful long hucks off against us which punished our zone. We managed to tighten up on defence and took the game away from them in the second half.
Our 2nd game against Potch Ultimate was a great challenge. The Potch players displayed great athleticism by getting some big defensive blocks and taking some difficult catches. The game was very well-spirited with very few calls being made during the match. The score board did not reflect how well they played. Fun fact there were at least 4 “honey-points” during the game.
We enjoyed our last game of the day against Skyveld, they had obviously been training hard and working better as a team since we played them last year. I was a little nervous because they had a huge squad which is always intimidating. Initially they were slow to pick up players after a turn-over which meant we got some quick points on the board but they soon rectified this and we had to work hard for every point. It was a good-spirited game and both teams were well matched, we had a feeling we would face them in the final the following day.
On day two, our game against Ultitude could be described as a test of fitness. Many of our players began to get fatigued and the day of games before meant we had to man-up and dig deep to make the cuts needed. Ultitude had a positive attitude towards us and we enjoyed the music-vibes Kerschyl provided on the side-line! It was a fun challenge to work out their defensive zone which made us make many more passes.
It was that time of the tournament and we were in the final to face Skyveld as predicted. Skyveld put up a big fight, it was clear that they wanted to be tournament champions and were there to earn it by patiently working up the disc. After a few adjustments to our zone defence to accommodate some of their ridiculously fast handler movement we managed to make it more difficult for them to score. Finals are always tough and pressured and players cannot afford to make errors… and this is what we came to expect. After persevering through the last three long points of the game where exhaustion started to set in, we pushed on to win the game 15:10. Although it was a highly contested game, Skyveld displayed excellent spirit.
We were very grateful to have been included in such a fantastic and fun tournament. Personally, I find that the Gauteng ultimate crowd are very friendly and great company to be around and this always provides a strong motivation to return to Johannesburg.
Some of our first time tournament players had this to say:
“The relaxed atmosphere at Binnelanders allowed me to be less nervous and I could enjoy playing the Frisbee game rather than being competitive at all times. Yet there was a great amount of intensity in the play that I could learn from at this tournament. It was so nice to see that every team appreciated each other’s performances on the field by cheering and giving words of encouragement. Binnelanders was a great opportunity to get to know fun and vibrant people who have lovely spirits.”- Nafas Agha
“Being a first time participant in the Binnelanders tournament was awesome! The team spirit as well as the actual tournament itself was an amazing experience for me as well as other new players. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.” – Cayden Dewing