There was some debate before the tournament as to how to split up the Nairobi players. This wasn’t an issue ahead of the Seven Hills Classic in Uganda last year because we did not even have enough players to field a complete Nairobi team and wound up joining forces with players from other regions of the country just to be able to cobble together one joint Kenya team. By contrast, there were three dozen people from Nairobi at FEAST, enough for three teams. A few people wanted to have an A-team that would be able to compete with the Ugandans, who have the best team in the East Africa region, but they represented the minority view.
The primary objective of FEAST is fun, and most people agreed that it would be more enjoyable to have three evenly-balanced teams. Knowing that we likely were not competitive enough to win was a blessing – when our team did get knocked out of the tournament there was no sense of disappointment like the one that dampened our spirits in Kampala after losing a closely-contested final.
Beach ultimate is much harder than playing on grass. For starters, running in ankle-deep sand under the blazing sun is utterly exhausting. We found it impossible to play more than one or two points in a row before collapsing on the sideline. The wind is also an unforgiving foe, flaring up at the most unexpected moments and taking uncontrolled throws dozens of yards off the mark. We also had to contend with narrow fields, which were squeezed in between the waterline and the row of palm trees that fringed the beach. In fact, D’s best throw of the tournament – a perfectly-floated forehand into the endzone – got swatted down by a palm tree that was encroaching on the goal-line.
Despite struggling at times to find our rhythm, we went 3-0 in pool play during the first day, earning a bye for the first elimination round on day 2. Our first game was against a team from Arusha, which was reduced to only 6 players after half their players bailed at the last minute. It was a close game, which we won 8-6. The next game, we faced the B team from Mwanza, also from Tanzania. Our play had improved somewhat and although the wind still wreaked havoc on our offense at times we won the game easily 10-1. Our last competitive game was against the combined Ethiopia – Rwanda team. We jumped out to an 8-1 lead, then got sloppy and had to hold on for an 8-5 victory as time expired.
The competitive games over, we mixed the teams in each of the three pools and played a pick-up game that quickly devolved into silly play, which included such classic variations as: layout points [you have to dive for each pass]; upside down points [you can throw hammers, scoobers, thumbers, and anything else in your trick shot repertoire as long as the disc is upside down]; dinosaur points [you must play the entire point with both arms fully extended (Pterodactyl) or with both elbows fixed to the body (T-Rex)]; and our favorite – the partner point [see picture below].
D was excited for the silly points, but cramped up within seconds of taking the field and had to watch from the sidelines until the partner point enabled him to play without running. It was a great way to end a fun day of ultimate and we were thankful that most people were not in a party mood that night, as we definitely needed our beauty rest ahead of day 2.