by Daniel Roodt
On Sunday, 24 April, Phoenix Ultimate Frisbee headed to Gqberha to compete in two matches against Gale Force and The Lions. Phoenix is a mixed ultimate frisbee team primarily composed of UCKAR students but also contains staff members and Makhanda residents.
After an early start, Phoenix arrived in Gqeberha to take on local team Gale Force, who are aptly named after the city they play in, in the day’s first match. The “Windy City” lived up to its name, with a constant cross-field wind blowing the entire day - making playing frisbee extremely challenging.
Gale Force, who are used to playing in adverse conditions, capitalised on this advantage and put Phoenix on the back foot the entire game. Phoenix were often stuck in the back corner of the pitch, with the touchline on one side, the end zone behind them, and the wind making it nearly impossible to play out of the tricky situation. Gale Force consistently put Phoenix in this position and scored numerous points from turnovers in this area.
In the end, the unfamiliar conditions, combined with some unforced errors, meant that it was a walkover for Gale Force, who ended up winning 15-2. However, despite the heavy margin of defeat, the young and inexperienced Phoenix team learned a lot and drew some positives from the game.
After a long break and some fun games on the side of the field, Phoenix’s next match was against The Lions from the University of Fort Hare. The Lions were a familiar challenge, having already played three games against Phoenix this year.
This game was equally as close as the previous encounters, with both teams very evenly matched. Neither team was used to the windy conditions, which evened the playing field a bit. But, in a game marked by injuries and controversies over certain decisions (ultimate frisbee is self-officiated), The Lions emerged as deserved victors, winning 9-8 after a full 90-minute game. It was the second victory in a row for the team from Alice against Phoenix, a sign of the immense progress they have made this year.
Mariesa Potgieter walked away with an MVP award from both matches, continuing her fine run of form this year. After an assured display, Nick Foxon picked up the male MVP award against the Lions, building on his excellent performances at the recent Eastern Cape Regionals tournament.
While the results weren’t what Phoenix wanted, it was still a beneficial experience, with several positives. Several new players got a taste of competitive frisbee and a baptism by fire playing in such torrid conditions. However, the constant wind was a necessary learning curve to go through, and these two matches will serve the entire team in good stead for any future games.