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Through our appeal, we wish to make this dream of playing for India come true- Abhishek Srinivas

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Image Credits: Deepthi Indukuri

One day we (India) as a nation will sit again to think whether we overdid the glamor of Cricket as a sports, to that level that various other sports couldn’t get the recognition, these deserve. Or have we started a debate through various mediums to get better in these less privileged sports in terms of our time given- as a viewer or as an investor or as a sportsperson or as a sports enthusiast? Then we’ll be able to see a sport, which is the greatest exhibition of sporting spirit, a sport- which doesn’t even require a referee to monitor the fair/foul play during the course of the match. Then, we’ll start idolizing people like Abhishek Srinivas, who, along with his team of 23 members (including him), is on a journey that requires support and aids- support as a viewer and financial aid. He spoke with us about the sport, issues they are facing with and uniqueness of the sport.

Association with the game, start and inspirations. Ultimate or Guts- in terms of competitiveness…

Born in a family of athletes, sports came to me by birth. My mother was a sprinter in her days for the state and dad played cricket for the Indian Air Force. I’ve played team sports all my life. Cricket and football for most parts. I happened to be introduced to this sport by a classmate while we were getting done with our engineering course. I, instantly, fell in love with the sport the first time I stepped on the field. The people around were very welcoming in teaching me the sport. I traveled with these “random people” for a tournament and have been hooked on to it ever since.

I’ve not played Guts at all.

The hurdles…

Access to good training facilities. We’re proud of the fact that we represent the country, but none of the facilities match any standards of what our fellow counterparts can avail back where they come from.

As a new sport in the country, we are trying to get state associations set up so the Sports Authority of India can recognize the sport and we will be affiliated with the Indian Olympic Association.

We are in 10 states and trying to get to 15 by the end of this year!

 Favorite moments with the sport…

I was lucky to represent the country for the first time last year at the World Championships of Beach Ultimate at Dubai. The memory of walking down the beaches of Dubai, waving the national flag, at the parade of the nations for the inauguration of the event is still etched in my memory.

The opportunity of meeting players and playing against countries like Slovakia, Slovenia, Uganda was just terrific.

Medal winning moments at the Beach Worlds and at the Asian Championships are right atop that list!

Availability of gears, support services, training facilities and infrastructure in India…

All you need is a Frisbee! A 175 grams of plastic. This disc isn’t manufactured in India. So every time we have someone traveling back from the US, we get a bunch of discs and shoes.

The infrastructure or availability of grounds is our biggest problem. Its almost always occupied by cricketers that we do not get to use any public grounds.

We either take the grounds very early in the day, read, 5:30am and practice for a couple of hours and head to work / college / school.

Matthew Zemel as a coach, role he plays in the training or match readiness part…

Matthew “Matty” Zemel is a professional player from the US. He has played on top club and college teams back in his day. He has been in the country for the last 3 months training this team and making us better in every sense. Skills, strategies, mental preparation. He brings a sense of calmness to this team which is bustling with energy and speed. His philosophy of “Clean as we cook” is the best part. This squad is made of highly skilled individual players and he lets the squad figure ourselves out on the field.

A game without referee- how does the sport take care of sporting spirit without anyone monitoring it?

This is the most unique part of the sport. The only team sport in the world played without a referee. And this is taught to every player the moment they step on the field for the first time. This is imbibed into players every time you play a game.

The two teams enter into a huddle at the end of every game to talk about not just the good plays that happened but also the moments of great spirit that was exhibited by each other. The teams score the other on the guidelines set aside such as knowing the rules and playing by it, fair-mindedness and that if the other team left a positive feeling at the end of the game.

The bigger prize at the end of the competition is the SotG award (Spirit of the Game) as ranked by your opponents. India has been the most spirited team at every world tournament we’ve played at and I’ve had the privilege of being a part of two such teams!

Team Members and responsibilities…

Right at the beginning of the campaign we picked our captains and Spirit captains. Getting the team together, exercising the right spirit amongst all the players were looked after by them. Since we come from 4 different cities, we had people stand up to own a few tasks to help us all. From getting supplies in place for training camp to filling up of visa forms to arranging sleeping bags and tents!

Financial issues stopping the team from its quest to participate and perform at WFDF 2016 World Ultimate & Guts Championships, London

There are players from all walks of life. From high flying consultants to sales engineers to developers to low income handymen. More than half the squad wouldn’t have ever dreamt of making it to London if not for this sport.

We are short by about 8 lakh Rupees without which this trip looks like not happening. The visas and flights are our biggest cost. These prohibitive costs along with having to train for a few days together, costs upto Rs.1,40,000 per player for this entire campaign.

Through our appeal, we wish to bridge this gap and make this dream of playing for India come true.

SportsCrunch appeals to the readers to support the Indian team to participate in the World Championships. People can log on to www.ketto.org/thepride for more details about how they can contribute towards the history being created for India.