Tom’s Tourney 2005 – Part 2
So we left off with me at the Brugge train station trying to get to the fields. It’s 10:15am. The tournament started at 9:30. I hopped a cab and the driver luckily knew the sportpark. I get to the fields and they are just swamped with ultimate teams. There are at least seven fields, with fourteen teams playing, and at least that many waiting on the sidelines. I start wandering around, looking for my team of giant-sized Dutch men, and can’t find them. This is slightly worrying. They should be easy to spot, they are all eight feet tall! But after ten minutes of lugging my duffel bag around, I have checked out every field and there is no sign of them.
I mean, this HAS to be the place right? There’s no way that they’re at the OTHER huge Ultimate tournament in Brugge this weekend right…?
I finally head to the registration tent and find an arial map of the sportpark. There are three more fields which are hidden completely out of sight, and wouldn’t you know it, my team just finished playing their first game on one of them.
Eventually I meet up with my UFO teammates to find out that they stomped all over the first team they played by a score of 12-1. With only 35 minute games scoring twelve points is quite a lot. I lace up my cleats and get ready for the next game.
There are 32 open teams (meaning they can be all-male or they can be co-ed) at the tournament. They are in pools of 4. You play everyone in your pool, and then the top two teams advance to a higher bracket and the lower two teams go to a lower bracket.
There are also eight women’s teams playing a round robin against each other. One of these is the national women’s team from the Netherlands, which has a few Utrecht players on it.
So, we have two more pool games to play. The second game is against the “D” team from the Brugge area called the Wanna Beezz. They have an average age of thirteen and are about half as tall as us.
We stomp them too, but in the last few minutes of the game one of my teammates throws a pass to me and I slow down just a little and the twelve year old kid who is guarding me runs in and knocks down the pass. They then get two very good passes off and score their only point of the game. My teammates make fun of me for being beaten by a twelve-year-old, but the Wanna Beezz played their hearts out, knowing the whole time they were hopelessly outgunned, and they deserved at least one point. Final score: 12-1.
Our last pool game is against a team of old British guys called “Violently Happy.” They are there really to have a weekend of fun away from their wives eating Belgian fries and drinking beer. They are a fun group and have some experienced players, but we crush them 10-3.
So we advance to the upper bracket. We are now in another pool of four, this time with teams which are a lot better. Our first game is against a team from Paris called “Les Invalides”. They are better than anyone we have played so far, but they are still not at our level. Plus they are French, which annoys me. Final: 11-5
Our final game of the day is against the best team in the pool, also from France, called “Ultimate Vibration.” It starts off as a very good game. We actually score first. But these guys are all fast, athletic, and very experienced. They pull away toward the end of the game and we just can’t match them. We play our best game of ultimate that day, but lose 9-5.
Saturday night there’s a barbecue, and I learn that the team is actually NOT staying in a hostel as I thought I read in the emails, but they are sleeping in a gym. On the floor. For which everyone else has brought foam mats and sleeping bags. Of which I have neither.
I briefly consider trying to get a hotel room, but it’s just too late and the logistics are too annoying. I borrow the keys to someone’s car and spend a fitful night trying to arrange myself comfortably in a tiny European two-door with no blanket. I get about three hours of sleep if you string all the fifteen-minute pieces together.
I really need to pay more attention to the emails.
Sunday comes and we have three games to play. The first is the final game of our second pool, against a British team called “Blue Arse Flies.” They are a co-ed team and they usually play three women on the field at a time. They are fairly good, but you just can’t put 5’6” women up against 6’2” men and expect to win. They really turn up the play on their last two points, hoping to score at least one point, but being the nice Dutch team that we are, we stomp them 12-0. The funniest thing about this game is the huddle with both teams at the end, where both teams make a little speech about the game. Our captain told them that they would be a good co-ed team.
They ARE a co-ed team.
So, the good news is that we finish second in our pool. That means we get to play two more games, and we will be playing for 5th to 8th place.
The bad news is, we have finally run into the very good teams.
We play a great game against a team from London called “Fire of London”, we are leading almost the whole way, but they pull it out in the end, winning four straight points to go from 3-5 to 7-5. We are just morons and can neither get our offense to work nor stop them, so they deserved to win, but it was frustrating.
Our final game was against our sister team from the Netherlands, a team called IcyDykes. They have a lot of players who are on our UFO team, along with some of the best players from Amsterdam. Their problem is that they came light to the tournament, and then suffered two injuries, and have been playing with only two subs all day.
I have to say, although the level of play remains high, this turns out to be the worst-spirited game we play the entire tournament. There are more fouls called than in all our other games combined, some of them really bad calls. We are down 5-2 in this game until we take a time out, cool off mentally, then come back in and start concentrating on playing our best.
They are tired and after we score the next two points in a row we start to feel the momentum. We win the ‘second half’ 5-1 for a final score of 7-6, taking 7th place.
It was an awesome weekend of Ultimate and we got to play some very good teams. The weather was beautiful, sunny and cool, the food was great, they had Belgian waffles for sale in the tent, and we finished 7th out of 32 mens teams. Not bad I would say.
I burned the back of my neck and the top of my head (damn bald spot), but it was well worth it. I can’t wait for our next tournament.
I hope I can get a ride next time though…