The domestic leg of the 2019 Goannas campaign was bookended by team discussions about the themes we wanted to define our campaign, and our identity as a team. What is a Goanna? What are the Goannas? Why do we play? And what do we want those who are looking in from the outside to see? We’ve told you that it’s a good time to be a Goanna. Now we’re going to tell you why.
Many of the ideas we raised at our first training camp were expressed with words like ‘sacrifice’, ‘effort’, and ‘for the boys’. They reflected our expectations for the next few months: balancing training with lectures and work days; investing in and relying on a group of relative strangers during a lengthy and expensive campaign; the rank desperation of only being halfway through a conditioning set, and the triumph of crushing that same set weeks later. We recognised that this work would improve the team as a whole, and us as individual players. GIVE represented our determination to be the best athletes, players, teammates possible in seven months’ time.
Six months later, GIVE has been the team value with the greatest impact on our daily lives. We still GIVE in the same ways, but for many of us the reasons and results are different. When we’re together and when we’re alone, we tell each other and ourselves to GIVE in the moments when nothing less than maximum effort will do. It reminds us of the team with which we will stand in July, and the knowledge that they’re doing the same, and for the same reasons. In the small amount of time that remains before Worlds, we’re determined to do the work and prepare as thoroughly as possible, so that all that will remain on game day is play with no regrets.
Some of us have been inspired by Beckham’s statement that ‘it’s not about the name on the back of the jersey, it’s about the badge on the front.’ We’ve been wearing a lizard on our chests for months now, and are about to don the Australian crest over our hearts. The thought of playing for Australia is no longer too distant or abstract to avoid. We want to represent our country and the people who are important to us. GIVE has also become linked to acknowledging their support and encouragement, and taking the time to demonstrate our appreciation.
GROW is, in part, the outcome attached to the process of GIVE. So much of our development as players and athletes happens during the very competitions for which we train, and Worlds will be no different. GROW meant recognising this as an opportunity and a springboard to improve our individual game and abilities, and leveraging it to extract as much gain as possible.
The communities outside this immediate team also fell under GROW. We were, and are, the product of the effort and investment of the people with whom we live and play back home. If we weren’t already, we would likely be leaders and role models in many of these communities by the end of the campaign, whether at the league, university, or club level. We could take the skills, ideas, and experiences of this campaign back home with us, and use them to bring the players back home along with us as we improved. Our sport remains miraculously accessible to new players, even at the elite levels. As the levels of competition increase, we can help reinforce the pathways, habits, and training practices of elite athletes, and help GROW the sport.
GROW has come to be more closely associated with our identity and capacity as a team. Individual improvements and growth can be hard to identify and measure. Our progress as a collective is far more easily gauged when we compare impressions, recollections, and footage from throughout our campaign. The creation and development of connections and chemistry between players and across lines has been incredibly exciting, reinforcing that each of us belongs on this team. As players, we feel as though we have grown into the legacy created by Goannas past. This concept of legacy has helped some of us track our progress: where we once wondered about how we might stack up against past iterations of the Goannas, we now wonder what kind of legacy we are building for those who will follow in our footsteps, and what being a Goanna will mean to them.
First and foremost, GOY represents our collective illiteracy. It is love-child of the word ‘joy’ and a perceived need for alliteration. GOY is, put simply, the joy and exhilaration of playing Ultimate. If GROW encouraged us to recognise the opportunities inherent in a Worlds campaign, GOY reminded us to revel in every moment, on and off the field. We are here because we love our sport, and to sacrifice that enjoyment because we’re playing on a bigger stage would make this entire exercise redundant.
GOY has been the most stable of our values over the campaign. It still evokes eagerness, excitement, and vast quantities of joy. We express it in different ways, and sometimes experience it in different ways too. We relish the points we spend on the field with our mates, and get around them when they’re on without us. We love pulling on our Goannas shirts, and are proud to wear them to sessions during the week at home. We can’t wait to meet up, whether for a local pod or a training camp, to play and have a laugh together. It feels as though we’ve struck a magical balance between working hard, and having the best time possible while doing it. And that’s exactly what we wanted to achieve when we decided that the word ‘joy’ didn’t quite fit.
What does it mean to be a Goanna?
Most of us have spent a great deal of our frisbee careers looking up to Goannas players. Representing Australia is tantalisingly achievable in this young sport, which so many players only pick up after leaving high school. Despite this, crusty older rep players can seem to tower above us, perched atop their ivory towers of Dingoes and Mundis caps. u24 players carry much of the same prestige, and more of the immediacy, accessibility and approachability of these players. The presence of younger representative players at university tournaments and local leagues creates an immediate and lasting association between the u24 brands and the players we see dominating the field.
Selection on the Goannas is a very explicit announcement that we have attained that level. It is a recognition of our current level of ability, and of our remaining potential as players. Whether or not we realise it, we may be those players to whom the next generation looks up to. We have been catapulted into a group of the best players under the age of 24 in the country. We take immense pride in ourselves and in our teammates because of this, and in the lizard resplendent on our shirts.
Some of us are excited by the prospect of playing for Australia. Some are excited because they are playing with the Goannas. Others still are excited to finally be able to tell strangers that the sport they’re travelling for is ultimate, rather than Contiki. For all but five of us, Worlds itself is a great unknown. The unblooded are excited because it’s their first Worlds; the returners because they know firsthand just how exciting Worlds is. But we are all beyond excited to square up with the rest of the world and play with a bit of swagger, and a lot of pride. We are the 2019 Australian Goannas, and we have been giving, growing, and enjoying every step of the way on the road to Heidelberg.
If you want to watch having a great time being Goannas in real-time in the next few weeks, follow us on Instagram @goannasu24, or follow our Facebook page (Australian Goannas u24 Australian Team: https://www.facebook.com/GoannasU24/)