Team Talk: Ultimate Frisbee’s John Gilliland

What is Ultimate Frisbee all about?

It’s played with a Frisbee, the outdoor season is 7 a side, the indoor season is 5 a side and you score a point by catching the Frisbee from a team mate over the opposition’s goal line. It’s very much like American Football with an endzone, but you aren’t actually allowed to run with the Frisbee so it’s also a bit similar to netball in that way with the use of pivoting. The sport is also self-refereed so it relies a lot on the spirit of the game, which encourages a lot of fair play. At the moment we are focusing on the outdoor season as indoor and outdoor are completely different games.

Do you play at Varsity?

Yes, we do compete at Varsity, so with no referee there is a lot of rivalry between the two teams, but we play Swansea quite a lot and we have got to know them a little bit so it’s a healthy rivalry.

What’s your role as president?

I just oversee most of the things that go on in the club. I have a really helpful committee – even without asking they will step in. The main thing I have been doing recently is organising a big regional tournament, so that should be fun but it has taken weeks of preparation and a lot of work to get it in Cardiff in the first place. We’re hosting both the men’s tournament and the women’s tournament, so it has been a lot of work and we are expecting over 350 players from different parts of the country. It’s a Western competition, so a lot of students will be coming – a lot of them all the way from Birmingham to Exeter.

Has it been stressful to organise?

I wouldn’t say stressful. It’s been a little time consuming, but I’ve had people helping me out. Everyone is chipping in and doing their bit so that has been fine. The main thing that we’re doing is sorting accommodation out for everyone so that’s been a big effort, but it’s going well and we are getting there. It’s looking good and the Union have been helpful as well. The event is at Llanrumney, which has eight pitches, from 9am to 5pm on the weekend of February 28th and March 1st.

How long have you been playing Ultimate Frisbee?

The majority of people only play once they come to university and have never played it before, so at university level it is such an accessible sport. People can just come along having never even heard of it and within a few weeks are very good at it. Some new players have even represented the first team this year. I only started in first year of university so I have been playing for a year and a half now.

Do you play to a good standard and play it outside of university?

I only play for university, but our team captain Alden Ching has been trialling for Great Britain Under 23s so he has obviously been putting a lot of hard work into his game. We have mixed and then also women’s and men’s teams. One of the girls, Camille Kostov, also plays for GB.

What physical components are required for Ultimate Frisbee?

It is mainly fitness-based, as we play on a pitch that is almost the same size as a rugby pitch. A lot of it is sprinting and quick changes of direction. You need to jump quite high too, but it is mainly based on speed and agility and endurance – they are the three main components.

Are you in a BUCS league?

The way it works is that we play a regional tournament, which is what we are hosting in Cardiff this weekend. Then the top three teams from each region go through to nationals which is obviously the whole of the UK. We are aiming for at least nationals as we got there last year and we’d like to do a little better than that. I think we came thirteenth overall last year out of the whole UK which is good, but we have won it in the past so we’d like to improve on that placing this year. It would be nice to win the regional competition, as we are hosting it. There are a couple of tough teams in our group, including Birmingham, who won the indoor title so they are the team to beat. We’ll give it our best shot and see how we get on.

Who is the biggest character at socials?

Our social secretary Bon Leung is good fun. He’ll sometimes get you to do things that you don’t really want to, which means you don’t really have much say in what you do. We do have a lot of characters within the club. The Vice President Dan Geerah is always a laugh at socials too.

Do you have any promising freshers for the season?

We had a fresher who made the first team for the nationals, who has only played Frisbee since September. He is fast, he can catch, throw and jump and he has good fitness. It is nice to see and encourages people to start the sport knowing that you can pick it up quickly.

How many players do you have signed on?

Over 100 so that is quite good and a lot of people have said that they will join next year so it’s only set to go up. I’d encourage people to come along and try it out. Most people will stay on as they absolutely love it. You don’t need to be able to throw a Frisbee because we’ll teach you all that. Just come along and I can guarantee that you’ll love it.

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