On a Saturday morning, as you walk through Parque Quinta Normal, a group of twenty or so people are throwing a frisbee through the air in some sort of organized fashion. What is going on, you may ask? These athletes, out bright and early, are members of the Ultimate Frisbee League of Chile.
Ultimate builds a strong community (photo by David Rojas)
For a long time, frisbee in Santiago mainly consisted of friends playing in parks or after school on university campuses. "Before 2011, foreigners and Chileans would throw a frisbee on Saturdays," says current league member Andres Lillo. That was all that was available for those who enjoyed throwing discs around.
By 2011, however, there were enough people interested to create the first Chilean Ultimate Frisbee team, called Paranoia. As dedicated player, Camilo Astudillo explains, "The team was comprised of beginners, but they decided to play at their first tournament in Argentina just two months after starting the team." At the tournament, Astudillo says that he "fell in love with the game, and there was no turning back."
The level of skill increases each year (photo by David Rojas)
Over the past three years, more and more Chileans have become involved in the sport, leading to the formation of the official frisbee league, the Liga Ultimate Chile. The first two leagues were focused on the fun as pect, as official Ultimate rules had still not been written up.
The third year of la Liga saw a push to better organize and legitimize the sport, and implement the official rules of Ultimate. "The goals were to enhance the level of the sport and understanding of the game," says league organizer Roberto Hanley.
This season, there will be four teams: Revolución Santiago, Blue Wings, Clovers and Frisbulls. These teams will not only play by official rules, but each will sport their own jersey for the first time in the league's history.
Tournaments attract new players (photo by David Rojas)
Just in the past few months, the league has taken a number of important steps. First, Revolución Santiago is in the last stages of becoming part of the Instituto Nacional del Deporte (IND) (National Institution of Sports of Chile). This is a huge step for the Ultimate community, as Revolución will be the first Ultimate team in Chile to be part of this institution, and it's hoped that this will help the sport get official recognition and funding.
Moreover, in early September, Revolución Santiago hosted a tournament in Ñuñoa. The tournament served as a great way to promote the sport and the growing Ultimate community in Santiago. Members of the league plan to host another tournament on the beach in Viña del Mar this coming November. Hopes are high for another successful event.
As Hanley says, Ultimate is “un estilo de vida” (a lifestyle). Not only does Ultimate serve as a fun and intense sport and an athletic outlet, but also, specifically in Santiago, it creates a close-knit community in a large, at-times overwhelming city.
No matter what level of Ultimate you are, from no prior experience to years of playing, or if you just want to check out the community of Ultimate Frisbee players in Santiago, visit Liga Ultimate Chile’s Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/ligaultimatechile