Monday, September 14, 2009

WEEKEND ROUNDUP: Pictures from the Tianjin-Beijing friendly

Players from Big Brother, Bang and Hangtime were in Tianjin on Saturday to help run drills for the locals and play a few friendlies. We went to an international school called TEDA Maple Leaf in Tangu, about an hour outside of downtown Tianjin.

Tianjin has arguably the most developed Ultimate community in mainland China, in large thanks to the efforts of Edward Wang, Richie Liu and Nick Liu (no relation), all first-generation Ultimate players and graduates of Tianjin Sport University. In addition to being great athletes (Richie is a regional champion in the 400-meter dash), they are all enthusiastic Ultimate players and always welcome help and support. Although Beijing-Tianjin friendlies have not always gone as planned, Tianjin players have always been gracious hosts whenever we go.

The day couldn't have been more perfect. In the first game, Beijing X played an intense game against Tianjin Speed. The score was knotted at 7, going to 9, before Beijing scored on offense and won a hard-earned break.

Beijing Y had fewer problems, winning 11-2 against TEDA before using the rest of the time to organize a cutting/huck drill.

TSU is a cradle rich with Ultimate talent, as most of the students there train every day to become athletes. As advanced Ultimate Frisbee players, our job is to help them work on their throws, field vision and team play, including concepts like the cup zone.

Below, Gareth and Mike Shyu explain the trap to a very eager group of Tianjin Speed players.

Edward and Richie in the picture below...

After playing both Tianjin teams (Beijing Y beat Speed 11-6), we played a Beijing vs. Tianjin "all-star" game on a nearby grass field.

Beijing took half 7-2 before deciding, as Richie and Nick were gone buying us beer, that we'd start over. The second game was a lot closer, though Tianjin could never get the break they needed. Final score: 9-7 Beijing.

Dinner afterwards: lots of dumplings

Ultimate has come a long way in Tianjin, which is saying something considering it started at a decently high level. In the first-ever China Nationals in 2007, Tianjin Speed finished second, to Air Kazak. It was the same result the year after. Richie, Nick and Edward graduated afterwards and formed their own team, which lost in semis this past year to eventual champions Hong Kong. Speed, meanwhile, is rebuilding its empire, with some of the fastest players this side of Shanghai. If you haven't watched them, do try sometime: they rely on quick cuts from all their players and quick throws, often telling one another, "Kuai yi dian'r, kuai yi dian'r" -- faster, faster.

Of course, their game has a ways to go as well. But in Asia Ultimate, Tianjin is a sleeping giant: in two or three years, when Richie and Nick have developed into huckers (Edward already has a nice deep throw), Tianjin will be a team to contend with, and not just at China Nationals. This past year, Tianjin won its pre-quarters game in Shanghai and finished tied for 5th, their best result ever in an international tournament. They can do better.

Tomorrow, expect two videos showing our clinic and games [update: here]. Thanks go out to Five Ultimate for partially sponsoring the trip.

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