Ballarat flavour in ultimate championship

Ultimate championsHarry O'Hagan, Tom Boyle, Harry Graham, James Walker and Damon Prendergast
Ultimate championsHarry O'Hagan, Tom Boyle, Harry Graham, James Walker and Damon Prendergast

It is certainly not the most hyped sport in Australia, but several Ballarat teenagers are trying their best to put Ultimate Frisbee on the map.

Tom Boyle, Harry O’Hagan, Anthony O’Hagan, James Walker, Harry Graham, Patrick Graham, Lachlan McDonald and Damon Prendergast all helped Victoria achieve the ultimate success of winning the Australian Youth Ultimate Championships.

The tournament was held over three days at Albert Park from July 7-9. In a rare feat, Victoria went through the entire tournament undefeated.

The Vics defeated the ACT, Queensland and South Australia on day one, and followed up those strong performances with similar dominant displays against Western Australia and New South Wales on day two of the group stages.

On the all-important final day of competition, Victoria proved far too strong for New South Wales in the final, running out 10-5 winners to finish the tournament in style.

Competitor Tom Boyle – a veteran of four national championships said the result was made more satisfying considering the challenging conditions the players were faced with.

“It was really windy and in our sport, wind can actually change the entire complexity of the game because frisbee’s are obviously very light,” Boyle said.

Not only did the Vics win the main tournament, they also managed to take home the Spirit Cup – a form of the sport that has no referee and which ultimately aims to encapsulate the spirit of Ultimate Frisbee. Each team has a spirit captain who is essentially tasked with running the game.

The concept of the game is simple enough to understand. There are seven players on each team and the aim of the game is to move the frisbee from one end of the ground to the other, with the final pass needing to be caught by a team-mate in the end zone for a point to stand. It is a non-contact sport and the player in possession is not allowed to run with the frisbee.

One of the first questions you wonder about a sport like Ultimate is how you initially get into it. For Boyle, he just happened to stumble upon it.

“The first time I played was in PE at school and I came home and told mum about it and she looked it up, but she couldn’t find anything. Thankfully she looked again and found a local league – Ballarat Ultimate Inc and I pretty much just got hooked from that point on,” he said.

Despite the sport’s smaller following, Boyle is pleased with the direction it is heading in Australia and internationally.

“It was one of the fastest growing sports last year and it only just missed out on getting into the 2020 Olympics, but at this stage it’s looking pretty optimistic for 2024.”