Updated: Aug 26, 2019
On the 19th of July, three U24 Australian teams finished their nine-month campaigns on a win. It wasn’t the placement game that any of the teams wanted or expected to be in, but they all ended on a W nonetheless.
The Goannas, Bluebottles and Stingrays came 5th, 7th and 11th, respectively, in one of the most globally competitive iterations of the U24 World Championships to date. To conclude IOU’s coverage of these campaigns, we’ll be sharing stories from inside the tournament, told by the players and coaches responsible. Unable to ignore such a great alliterative opportunity, we'll release these articles on 24's Tuesdays © for the next six or seven weeks.
What were the highlights? What were the heartbreaks? Where the hell did Latvia come from? All this and more will be delivered to you, throughout IOU's Heidelberg Series.
And to start, like any good warm-up, we’re going to give you a little taste of everything. We’ll do a light jog, get a few short sharp stories from across the three teams, then some thrower marker, then mini, and then we’ll play for real.
Jeez. Naff analogy aside, please enjoy.
Nic Lelli - The Bluebottle Peloton
Never have I been so disappointed to see 29 bikes in a carpark. I should have known something was up. Vague responses from our coaches and manager as to the whereabouts of our accommodation, and how we intended to get there, were obvious clues.
Why is a bike ride through scenic Heidelberg such a bad thing? Fine question. You see, I’ve never been too good at riding a bike. It made up a large portion of adolescent anxiety for me, a close third to house parties and the swimming carnival. Bikes represented a fear of being outside my comfort zone. So when 29 bikes shone in the German sunlight, waiting, leaning cockily on their little retractable stand, you can understand my hesitation.
My last year in friz has heavily revolved around stepping out of my comfort zone and giving it all a real crack. Playing for Colony and playing 24s were things well outside my safety net, and it all seemed to be summed up in this moment. A moment of magic. This was one of many in the Bluebottles Worlds campaign.
My team had my back for that long ride through Heidelberg, and I can tell you that some serious magic happened in my brain as I was riding through the historic streets of a beautiful German town, listening to an obnoxiously loud speaker playing our team songs, grinning, proud to be part of my first and favourite bluebottle peloton.
Sabrina Tiong - How the Stingrays Exterminated Their Bedbugs
As the Stingrays arrived in Munich, we were ready to take on the world. Little did we know that our plans for Gold would be derailed; we soon discovered our hostel rooms were infested with bed bugs. Itchy, exhausted, and a little paranoid, we set into action a plan to get rid of these bloodsuckers. Lucky for you, we now share our tried-and-true plan if ever you find yourself in a similar situation.
How to get rid of Bed Bugs:
Step 1: Lose to the Munich Women’s club on universe
Step 2: Discover you won't be live streamed
Step 3: Underestimate how long it will take to pick up the vans, miss out on seeing Neuwachstein castle then arrive late in Heidelberg for our game against the Heidelberg Women’s club. Proceed to lose 15-13
Step 4: Lose against GB after taking half 8-6
Step 5: Lose against Switzerland on universe, again after taking half 8-6.
Step 6: Lose against Ireland on universe, after taking half 8-5.
Step 7: Lose against NZ.
Step 8: Again, lose against NZ, this time on universe.
Step 9: Lose spirit to NZ after tying for the top spirit score. Note this is only possible if you lost against NZ in step 8 so that they place higher than you.
And there you have it, the Stingrays are bed bug free thanks to an intense two-week long eradication program. Sure, maybe you say it's because our manager spent countless hours laundering and drying our clothes, but I say they were planted by the USA to undermine our way to Gold.
Fisher Day - The Opening Ceremony at Silly Mid Off With the Goeys
I get let out of the LONGEST spirit captain's meeting ever. There’s a bit of a buzz as everyone begins walking towards the marshaling field, but as we get closer, I can’t wait. I run the last hundred metres to see a thousand athletes wearing their national colours, but the green and gold immediately stands out. All the Goannas are there, and while every other team is standing around taking photos, we’re playing cricket. With an AFL ball as a bat. I’d expect nothing less.
After doing our country proud, dispatching rank full tosses and executing some expert fielding, we finally succumb to the trend and start taking some photos. Individual photos. Team photos. Club team photos. Uni team photos. My camera roll is full of them, and they’re all treasured memories. Eventually, one of the volunteers starts moving Team Australia towards the front, since we’re the most important (and also first alphabetically). After a bit of preamble from the tournament organisers, they finally announce over the loudspeaker “WELCOME TEAM AUSTRALIA!”. We all lose it with cheering and “Aussie Aussie Aussie” and waving to the crowd. To me, it was the culmination of a dream I’ve had since I was young to represent Australia, and in this moment, I couldn’t be prouder of what I’d achieved and couldn’t be more excited about the week to come.
Brittany McCarthy - Last Game With the Stingrays
The last warm up was when it started to hit me. The tournament was ending and we were all going back to our separate lives in Australia. Our last game was against Belgium. We won 15-1. I remember trying to be present and enjoy every last moment with the team and when the final point was scored and we won the game, I didn’t feel happiness. I felt pride and love for the team, but I felt sad that the campaign was all over.
Now I’m travelling around Europe having the best time, but I have been thinking a lot about the Stingrays and our week at Worlds. Looking back to how I felt on the last day, I remember loving the feeling of competing. Worlds made me realise how much I love this sport and everything it gives me.
Kya Wiya - Scoring Goals with the Bluebottles.
Jess calls the line. "Let's have Ava and Nic behind the disc.... Kya go down on the left."
I get that feeling of breathless excitement.
Huge smile on my face.
The disc is in Ava or Nic or Gus' hands. I cut laterally into the space then move deep. I see the frisbee is up and I run it down and catch it. This happened at least four times.
I remember Ava throwing a perfect flick towards the end of our USA game. I didn’t worry about the score being 14-8, I was focused on catching Ava’s throw and having fun.
I love the unstoppable offence my long ball line had. We took that structure, knew it so well that we could break it and make it our own. That is the joy of playing Ultimate... actually no, it's the joy of playing with this team.
Also, Ava to Kya - 100% completion rate.
Tom Butler - Not How It Was Supposed to Go(annas)
We’re 4-0 down and I haven’t played a point. It’s time to give, give everything I can to help this team - my team - get ourselves into this game.
Coach Kyal calls the play. 5-2 horo, Boyle and I handling, cuts coming from the 3. Let’s put this one away.
USA sends up the pull. From the corner of my eye I see blue jerseys and red shorts rapidly approaching, already at our brick mark. The disc floats reluctantly and slowly down into my hands, halfway back into our end zone. A great pull. I clap catch it and throw an unmarked backhand to Tommy Boyle. Confused, I watch as the disc sinks towards the ground. He half-heartedly lunges to catch it, but it’s already skimming limply across the hot AstroTurf.
For a moment I stare, horrified and helpless. In seconds the point is over. My eyes glaze over, I take a deep breath and a time-out is called.
WFDF stats tell me that point lasted just over a minute. I find that hard to believe. 15-3 later, the game was finished with almost half of our 100 minute time slot still remaining. This wasn’t how worlds was supposed to go.
That's all for this week. If you enjoyed this article, and you're excited about the prospect of six more articles about U24's from the players and coaches involved, consider making a small donation to Inside Out Ultimate to keep our running costs down.
See you next week!