“What’s the journey like to Worlds?” We were pretty sure everyone like us, was just dying to know. Our undying curiousity led to a series of interviews with the Singapore represents. As our Singapore Ultimate community braces itself for the excitement and adrenaline with each day drawing us closer to the Worlds Ultimate & Guts Championship (WUGC) 2016, Part 3 of our series sees us chatting with Rachel Boey, who will be leading our Singapore Women’s National Team out on the international Worlds pitch.
We know her for her quick pivots, fast strike cuts and big hucks as a female handler. Are all the ladies heading up to Worlds packed with that much punch? Read on to find out what it takes to be heading up to London this June, and get to know more about their journey and hurdles as they embark on the biggest Ultimate tournament this season…
1) Hi Rachel, how’s it going! Thank you for having this interview with us. First up, could you give us a rundown of the Singapore Women’s squad? Who are the coaches powering up this team?
Our team is mainly made up of the ladies from Shiok, who successfully clinched the bid at GenderMah! 2015 to represent Singapore at WUGC 2016. We have with us a combination of ladies who present a diverse variety of skills and abilities on the field. Our main focus thus far is to devise line-ups that allow us to maximize the potential of every individual. We do this by laying out very specific roles for each player on the field.
The one powering the team is none other than Clive, well known to be one of the most respected, experienced and brainy player in the Singapore Ultimate scene. We also had the pleasure of Mumba recently joining us in the coaching panel as well.
2) Is this the first time Singapore is sending a Women’s team to WUGC? How has training and preparation for it been thus far? Could you share with us how a weekend looks like with the team?
Singapore previously sent a Women’s team to WUGC back in 2012. That tournament was held in Japan. The team who represented Singapore back then comprised of players from different clubs, who had to put in the extra hours apart from their respective club trainings to train up and build chemistry. Let’s also not forget the Women’s squad who recently represented Singapore at Italy in 2014!
As for us, this WUGC, we are so lucky to be sending in a team with players whom all come from the same club. Planning and scheduling trainings are a lot easier with common schedules and we did not have to struggle finding a common timeslot.
The preparation leading up to Worlds has been a stringent routine for us. We have two training sessions each week – one weekday night session and another Saturday morning session. Each session we are fully commited to learning and mastering the structures we plan to use against the other squads at WUGC. Every training concludes with a scrimmage to match our O and D lines up against each other. I personally found this not as dynamic as it should be as we have been scrimmaging with and against ourselves for the longest time. Hence, we switched it up by inviting the other Singapore clubs to have friendlies with us. That really made things more productive as it shaked things up to become more unpredictable for us, testing our abilities to match up well to different scenarios.
PS: Please ping me if your team is keen on having a scrimmage to help us in our prep for Worlds!
3) We wanna know, how excited are you for the tournament! Which parts do you look forward to the most, and what do you (and your team) have your sights set on?
Why, playing Women’s of course! Singapore currently is still more focused in the Mixed Division, so we don’t get plenty of chances to play with and against other ladies (except at Gendermah!, which is only once a year). WUGC allows us to do so at a really high and competitive level and we are all pumped up for it.
We have been working hard the entire season. I believe many of us have shed quite a lot of tears and sweat to build ourselves up to be stronger players. Seeing how much my ladies have stepped up and improved from day one till today, I am really looking forward to what they are going do at Worlds. The international scene there is going to be huge and surely will open up tons of opportunities for us to observe, learn and experience. If we give it our best, I am pretty sure we will walk away with a really good experience no matter the result.
I have my sights on our keeping our spirits up. We have to make sure that everyone at every moment is pushing each other on, constantly encouraging each other to be positive and strong for the tournament. It is not going to be easy as we will surely be facing tough opponents. Our goal is to be able to successfully execute our plays and structures. Seeing them work out during the games always never fail to put a smile on our faces.
4) Tell us more about the Women’s team playing style and what we can look forward to during WUGC.
Our aim for the WUGC Women’s squad is to maximize the ability and potential of every girl on the field. Our structures are devised to be dynamic and fast-paced, stretching the limit of every single player. We want to force our ladies to step out of their usual comfort zones. Expect to see multiple ladies rotating through both handler and mid positions to dictate the play, as compared to previously where we had only a couple of strong handlers who controlled the flow and pace of the game.
5) Asian players tend to be at a disadvantage in terms of physical height as compared to their North American and European counterparts. How much of an obstacle do you think this will prove to be at WUGC, and how do you plan on countering it?
Us Asians definitely have a disadvantage when it comes to our height. We’re significantly much shorter and smaller in stature. To counter that, we have to be faster, agile and more athletic – that’s where I believe we have advantage at, compared to our stockier counterparts.
As such, we have been working hard to get nimble footwork, smaller quicker steps and swifter change in direction. That will help us to better shake off the tall defenders and perhaps take them by surprise. Practicing our quick and low release on throws, give and gos, also helps us to get that edge. One challenge is that it is not easy to find opponents of big and tall statures to practice against in Singapore – so it’s been just simulation so far. Nonetheless, matching up against opponents one or two heads taller will definitely challenge us to think out of the box to find a way around them. That in itself is a perfect learning opportunity.
6) The Women’s scene in Singapore has seen a spark in growth over the past few years, both in terms of participation and quality of play. How do you envision it will become in the years ahead? Do you think Singaporean teams and players will shift more of their focus from Mixed to Opens and Women’s?
In my honest opinion, the fastest way for our female players to reach their fullest potential is to play in Women’s. In Mixed games, unfortunately and inevitably, there tends to be an over-reliance on the guys. Conversely when playing Women’s, the girls find themselves being thrown into the deeper end, often having to find a way to move the disc on their own. The only way to do that is to step up and become better. That greatly accelerates their learning growth.
As our Women’s scene grows bigger in Singapore, I forsee better quality of plays from our ladies as more of them rise up to the challenge of having to play a pivotal or bigger role on the field.
I have not put much thought into whether our Singaporean teams are going to shift their focus from Mixed to Opens and Women’s because as of now, most of our ladies are playing Women’s in order to become a better player for the Mixed Division. But moving forward, I think it would be incredible to have Singapore become stronger in gender tournaments, especially on an international level. That would be major proof that Singapore Ultimate has grown exponentially.
7) Female players tend to get overshadowed at times in the mixed scene. Being one of the top female Ultimate players in the local scene, how would you encourage and advise our ladies to step up to get more visibility both on and off the field?
Get lots more disc time. If you are playing in a Mixed team, I cannot stress how important it is for you to be confident and daring to make the plays. Practice your throws often so that you are more comfortable with the disc. If you have the right throws, you can look down the field to hit open mids instead of turning behind to dump the discs back to the handlers (who are usually the boys). That being said, I am seeing more and more ladies step up to make the big plays in Mixed games, so that is a really encouraging sign. Know that if those ladies can, you can too!
8) We have seen the emergence of Opens clubs in Singapore, with Crackerjacks and Hardcore leading the way. Do you think we will see a Women’s club soon?
As of this moment, Ultimate Frisbee is still considerably new, relative to the other older sports like soccer, hockey and netball. Sad to say, many athletes might not perceive it as a “proper” sport, resulting in a smaller pool of people picking up Ultimate. With the limited (though growing very fast) number of players who choose to pick up Ultimate, there’s a smaller ratio of female players, which right now is not sufficient to form a big enough female Ultimate community. We would need to grow our intake numbers to build and foster that community of female players.
Though because of some limitations above, I personally do not think a Women’s club might form so soon in Singapore, I’m hoping we all gear our mindsets into achieving that one day. Who knows, we might be able to emulate the Women’s club scene in USA in the future years to come!
9) At the recent Gendermah tournament in April, we noticed a rise in the number of new, young and talented female players stepping into the Ultimate scene. How do you think the Singapore Ultimate community can nurture and help them reach their fullest potential?
I must say it is really encouraging to witness so much new blood coming in. Most of the clubs have expanded their clubs significantly over the years, with the norm now to send in 2 squads for each tournament. At Mixed Nationals (happening tomorrow), you can see Shiok and Chuckies sending in 3 teams! It is great that our clubs are expanding, bringing in younger players to teach, guide and share their experiences with them. Under a good wing, earnest and willing to learn players will find that reaching their potential is no problem. Clubs will have to note that in order to nurture their talents, they need to constantly improve on their training programmes and structures.
Additionally, in order to become an excellent player, you need to put in additional hours of practice. A key tip is to always be open-minded to receiving feedback.
In Singapore, unfortunately we can’t play Ultimate as a professional full time career due to lack of funding and infrastructure in the Singapore sporting scene right now. Realistically, you have to juggle playing Ultimate alongside either your studies and career (and for some people, both), which would take up majority of your time. Hence, in order to reach your fullest potential with that limited amount of time you have in a day or trainings, you have to be very disciplined with your additional hours. Do not just solely rely on training sessions to make you better. Set aside some time to practice and acquire new skills, as well as hone your existing ones.
Apart from club trainings, school training sessions, pick ups and beach Ultimate can present more opportunities for players to learn and grow. Grab them!
10) In recent years, the number of injuries players sustained from Ultimate Frisbee has gone up quite significantly. Having gone through a major injury and recovery time yourself, could you give some advice to players on how they can better take care of their bodies and physical self?
Make sure you warm up properly and thoroughly. Also place focus on strength training and conditioning in your regime, in order to for your body to keep up and be fit for the increasing demands of Ultimate. I personally find that very useful to help players remain injury-free, even as the intensity picks up during on-season. Always remember to listen to your body and watch out for any signs that your body might need more strengthening. Your body knows best.
11) Any tips for players looking to go to Worlds in the future?
Discipline. You have to want it enough. Heading up to Worlds is unlike other tournaments where months of preparation might be sufficient to get there. When it comes to Worlds, it is a long marathon of sprints. It can be years of preparation just for that one week. You have to want it enough to stick to the course.
And like for every other tournament, set yourself a goal. Work hard at trainings to prep your body, play more competitions to prep your mind, and gear yourself to achieving that goal you set for yourself. I strongly believe that it’s the journey that counts. Results are secondary and are a by-product of your hard work. Oh, and save money too of course!
12) Last but not least, tell us which player/team are you most excited to see in action at WUGC?
Let me be greedy and pick two – USA and Japan! I have yet to see them up close and live. It will also be a blast getting to play against them and know where we stand. We want to use that knowledge to improve ourselves further when we get back from Worlds! Absolutely can’t wait!
With that, we wish all the best to our Singapore Women’s Team for WUGC 2016! #teamsingapore #singaporepride
Be sure to check out awesome video made by One Hand Grab showcasing the Singapore represents for WUGC 2016. It is incredible work that you cannot possibly miss out on.
Stay tuned to the next interview of our WUGC 2016 Series. Read more interviews here.
Meanwhile, check out the final standings & photo coverage of GenderMah! 2016:
- Final Standings of GenderMah! 2016
- Gendermah Opens, Womens Division & Practice by Erwin Soo
- Gendermah 2016 by Terry Tan Lee Ban
- Gendermah 2016 by Kenneth Elijah Yau
PS: Thirsty Camels would like to thank and give all photo credits to the dedicated Ultimate photographers of the local scene. Also, big thanks to UPA(S) for Mixed Nationals coming up tomorrow. Don’t forget to follow our IG Takeover here.