I arrived in town late on the 5th and was unable to see the Open team practice. Luckily my visit to the fields on Friday, the 6th, was quite exciting. I were able to watch TC (Team Canada) Mixed, TC Women’s, TC Women’s Masters, Great Britain Women’s, Germany Mixed, Austria Open, France Masters, Colombia Open, Australia Women’s, Australia Open, Japan Open, Japan Women’s, and Japan Women’s Masters. After many hours of wandering, watching, analyzing, and getting in trouble with the police (it happens to us every time) there are quite a few thoughts I have and I’ll attempt to share them with you here.
Far ahead of the tournament and up until now I have been concerned with the location of the tournament. Not that it’s in Japan but that it’s in J-Green. The facilit does not reflect what’s shown on Google Maps, it’s very modern and established. However, it’s a bit difficult to get to and I was initially concerned with the shuttle plan. Fortunately the shuttle schedule looks to be very good and should allow players to return to their hotels after games relatively quickly. We’ll see how the shuttles pan out but the accessibility issue seems to be resolved for now.
However, the elements shall be an issue and not one that can be controlled. The weather here has been relatively pleasant so far. The temperatures have not breeched 30 Celsius and even with the humidity there’s been a breeze. That does not tell the full story though. In conversations with TCW players they indicated that on the 5th they had a friendly played in torrential rain moving almost horizontally. Weather for the week does not show as much rain or wind expected but conditions change rapidly and we can only be certain of all teams experiencing all of the elements. It shall be sunny and blistering hot on some days and hot and humid on others. In my mind that’s perfect. As Ultimate players we play in all conditions and I am excited to see how the best hold up against the conditions, it’s part of the test for Gold.
Another challenge that the players face are the fields. I’ve not had a chance to see the grass fields yet, and I suspect none of the players have either, but the turf fields lack grip. The turf fields are new and they’re like some of the fields we play on in Canada but they don’t appear to have been “fluffed up”. Many players from many countries were slipping on the turf and I suspect that turf shoes will go a long way to help players. I did not see the Japanese players stumbling on the turf and it certainly feels like they’ll have an advantage and be sure footed on those fields.
Across the board, for all teams, focus is presently lacking. Every team had a timeout conversation where the team was chewed out for a lack of focus. It’s not surprising considering that many have just arrived and are experiencing a bit of jet lag. However, TC look relaxed and in good shape. There are definitely other teams that have a bit of an inferiority complex and were intimidated by the stronger teams.
Focusing just on TC now.
The Women’s teams that we’ve sent are powerhouses. TCMW faced off against GB Women’s and were dominating for much of the games. The ladies are definitely focused and are in good shape. TCW are also looking relaxed and they have an interesting tournament. The Women’s division has a single pool with no quarter finals. Every game matters for them as they have to finish top four. Does it weigh on their minds? From the look of it, nope!
TC Mixed had a self scrimmage and were definitely playing a more rounded game. At the beginning the O and D were getting their footing but after that were able to comfortably move into their game. A bit of a lack of focus after they had to switch fields for the second time but they recovered after a talking to and are quite relaxed now.
Overall it was a reasonable practice. There are four games today in some possibly rainy conditions. I’ll be missing out on them today as I have to head elsewhere but come tomorrow expect updates from the fields (on Twitter) and photos and a writeup at the end of each day. I’m going to be following a number of different teams so expect spread coverage.