UP Middle East League Round Two

22 May
The first week of May was Sports Week in Israel and the community of Arabe, one UP has been working with for a couple of years already, invited us run a round of league games as their central event.  The Mentor Coaches, all 11 strong, met up in Arabe for a lunch of hummus, shwarma, and salads before heading out to the fields.  We all need to be properly fueled for the afternoon ahead.

Coaches lined up with the hills in the background

Arabe generally uses the practice field at the Doha stadium in the neighboring town of Sachnin, and we got there without any trouble.  However, this time we were on a different field than what we were used to.  If I recall the directions correctly, it involved driving to the Sachnin stadium and then past it, making a u-turn, passing the stadium again, turning right followed by an immediate u-turn, a couple frantic phone calls to the other cars to figure out where they disappeared to, passing the stadium yet again but this time turning right, u-turn #3, sitting in a convenience store parking lot for 10 minutes while someone figures out where we actually need to get to, and finally a ten minute drive down a gravel road between groves of olive trees to a small soccer field in the middle of nowhere.

The head of sport for Arabe welcomes everyone

How picturesque!

We got there just in time, as the players started showing up.  Arabe, Tamra (two teams), Daburia, Tuba, and Ein Rafa.  We set up three fields width-wise on the short soccer field as the players started throwing and warming up.

With the mentor coaches properly divided between the teams, Karym welcomed everyone followed by the head of sport for Arabe.  Then Karym handed me the microphone… and my mind drew a blank…  Yeah, I had put together the game schedule and such, but I couldn’t think of what to say.  So I went back to the old standard:

Abe doesn’t remember his lines…

“What are the five principles of Ultimate Peace?”

“Friendship!”
“Non-violence!”
“Fun!”
“Mutual Respect!”
“Integrity!”

“Great! Now, if we act and play with those five principles, we will be playing with great Spirit!  Ten minutes until the first pull!”

The first games started off slowly as the players got used to the windy conditions, but as they settled down the action picked up.  Every time we get these guys on the field they play better and better, and yet somehow I keep being amazed at how much they progress.  There was dumping and swinging, stacking and clearing out, hucking, big D’s, point blocks, and even a couple sweet layouts.

After 45 minutes, everyone played a last point, spirit circled, high-fived and then retreated to the shade for a well deserved rest and re-hydration break.  Then it was back to the fields for a second and final game.

The players being welcomed

As the second round ended, the first of the communities started packing up and heading back to their buses.  The mentor coaches, started unpacking their cleats, knee braces, and other accessories.  It’s hard to get this many Ultimate lovers in one place without a game breaking out.  With mixed teams of coaches and players who hadn’t yet left the game was at a furious pace.  Some highlights included Dan’s hopping return to action after hurting his foot in a small scooter accident a couple weeks ago, Zolo going fully horizontal for a sweet layout D, a swarm of mosquitoes nibbling on the spectators, and the Super Moon rising over the hills.

11 mentor coaches, 5 communities, 6 teams, 3 fields, 2 rounds of games, and an immeasurable amount of fun.  Can’t wait until the next one.

Abe
Mentor Coach

P.S. Most of our usual shutter bug coaches were on hand, but we were all so involved in the players and the games that we didn’t get any action shots.  Next time, we promise.

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