Having earned the right to sleep in, we showed up at the fields around 10am for our quarterfinal match against Mwanza’s A team, which had already played an elimination game that morning. The game turned nasty from the get-go. The Mwanza team played hard, but without an appreciation for or, seemingly, much respect for the rules. Ultimate frisbee is not really meant to be played as a contact sport, but there was contact – and lots of it – on virtually every play. Tempers flared and there were a lot of fouls and other violations called, and a lot of discussion each time someone made a call. Ultimate is played without referees, the spirit of the game frequently invoked as the touchstone for resolving disputes. Sadly, the spirit in this game was distinctly lacking.
With time ticking down, we scored an up-wind point to take what should have been a commanding 6-4 lead. Unfortunately, Mwanza countered quickly, and a costly turnover on the next point left the game tied 6-6 as time expired. We received the disc for the deciding point of the match and with the wind at our backs worked it down the field. We got down to the goal-line but one of Mwanza’s female players made an amazing foot block on what likely would have been a score. We set a zone defense, but when a poor, wobbly upfield pass was somehow snagged by a Mwanza player, our defense broke down. Three short passes was all they needed to march into the endzone and knock us out of the tournament.
It was a poor way to go out, and it stung to lose to a team that played dirty, but our consolation match against Ethiowanda quickly lifted our spirits. After toying with several team names, most of which were inappropriate, we had settled on ‘Pants Optional’ as our moniker. With the competition over, we let loose and exercised the option implicit in our team name, prompting no shortage of glee, and perhaps a small dose of discomfort, from the sidelines.
Though all three Nairobi teams performed well on the first day, only one of our teams made it to the semifinal, before losing to Uganda. This set up what proved to be a spectacular final between Uganda and the team from Juba. There were so many highlight-reel plays on every point that watching the final more than made up for not playing in it. Juba jumped out to a surprising 7-4 lead on the strength of several full-field hucks, but Uganda settled down after the halftime break and wound up taking the game 13-9.
The back-and-forth match was a fitting finale to an exciting tournament and left us eagerly looking forward to a return to Kampala for the Seven Hills Classic this summer. [Click here and here for more FEAST pictures]