For Anita, 17, a day wouldn’t pass without spending at least two hours in her neighbourhood park in south Delhi’s Zamrudpur. Unlike other girls from her locality which is mostly populated by low income families, her life isn’t restricted to just school and home. Since the last three years, Anita has been playing Ultimate Frisbee, a mixed gender sport that is opening up new worlds for kids of her age. But today, thanks to her passion and commitment towards the game, she is defying many gender stereotypes.
“Girls have a lot of responsibilities which is why they don’t get as many opportunities as boys. Boys are allowed to roam outside at late nights. But parents don’t allow girls to do all that,” she says.
Ultimate Frisbee is a self-refereed non-contact sport played majorly as a mixed gender sport around the world. In India, it’s played on in mixed gender format. It’s a 7-vs-7 sport where it’s either four men and three women or four women or three men in one side.
YUltimate, a non-profit start up, has taken up the initiative to promote the game. It is providing free coaching and training to around 50 kids in collaboration with Usha International.
The best part of this mixed-gender sport is that it promotes equality on all fronts. “The good thing about the sport is that girls and boys play together. Everyone is equal in this game,” says Kalpana, a 17-year-old, who got selected in the national team last year.
“It is played in the right spirit. There are no fights or arguments. There is no heckling or pushing,” she adds.
Unlike, other sports where on-field aggression is the norm, Ultimate Frisbee is about having the right communication. “Because it is self refereed, it is expected for each player to know the rules, understand them and whenever there is a conflict, peacefully talk it out with each other. That is an extremely important skill that we are trying to build with the kids so that they understand how do they resolve conflicts,” says Benoy, Founder, YUlimate.
After every game, all the players sit down together for a ‘spirit circle’ session where they discuss everything about the game.
The kids also make sure that the game doesn’t hamper their academics. Their seniors also make sure that they don’t lose out on studies because of their game. “Our coaches provide us tuition classes. They always solve our problems whenever we approach them. Because of them, I am very disciplined today. My parents support me because they know I am managing both academics as well as sports,” says Laxman , a class XI student.
Ultimate Frisbee, is popular across many countries around the world and is recognised by International Olympics Committee. It is expected to be introduced in 2024 Olympics. However in India, it is yet to be recognised by the Sports Authority of India.
But for these kids, this sport is everything.” I like running all the time, throwing and grabbing discs. If given a chance, I will take it up professionally in future,” Anita says.