The Kingdom’s ultimate Frisbee community was celebrating moving a step closer to global recognition this week after the growing sport’s world federation issued a grant to the Cambodian Frisbee Association to help accelerate its incorporation into the body.
Part of the donation was spent on a women’s clinic on Sunday. “The goal was to show Cambodian girls the sport of ultimate Frisbee,” said co-organiser Sreyda Chan. “It was a success as 62 girls joined.”
Secretary of the frisbee association Flo Zwiers said the clinic made him optimistic about the future of the sport in Cambodia: “The great turnout is indicative of how fast the sport is growing here. This women’s clinic was the highlight of my weekend, and that includes the championship finals the night before!”
The 2016 ultimate frisbee world championships took place from June 18-25 in London, with national teams from over 30 countries. The finals, held in the sold-out stadium of European rugby champions Saracens, were won by title-favourites USA.
While the sport’s most prestigious leagues are found in the US, with games shown on ESPN, the sport is gaining traction worldwide, as seen by world governing body World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF) being granted full recognition by the International Olympic Committee last August.
Cambodian Frisbee got a boost when Cambodian-American Soph Long was signed in March by Cincinnati Revolver, who play in the AUDL, one of two semi-professional leagues in the US.
Romina de Jong, one of the organisers of the women’s clinic, believed the WFDF donation is great for girls in Cambodia. “Unique about the sport is the ‘Spirit of the Game’, which refers to sportsmanship and places the responsibility of fair play with the players – there is no referee in Frisbee.”
This was what appealed to first-timer Nov Synoeun. “This game has a good game spirit, teamwork and keeps us healthy. I like it a lot and had so much fun,” she said.
Including women in the development of the sport is important, as most ultimate Frisbee tournaments in the region are mixed, requiring a minimum number of men and women on a team.
The next international tournament that will feature Cambodian teams is the annual Mekong Cup tournament this September, which will be held in Bangkok.
While Sreyda is keen to join the all-Cambodian Swa team at this tournament, the team is short of women to field a full Cambodian side. She hopes many of the girls who took part in the clinic will keep playing.
Synoeun, for one, thinks many will: “I look forward to attending the next clinic and will making sure that other girls who are interested also keep playing the sport.”
Zwiers sees benefits even beyond participating in the Mekong cup. “Not just the turnout, but the fact that the clinic was largely organised and ran by our Cambodian women, shows that we have matured as an organisation, and this makes me optimistic about the prospect of joining WFDF very soon,” he said.