I just had a fantastic full day surrounded by Israeli youth Ultimate!
My day began with me hitting the snooze button only 3 or 4 times, so I managed to get up early enough to do a bit of exploring of the shops around the apartment before the walk north to the Sportek fields. With a cappuccino in hand, and a bottle of seltzer packed away for later, I was set. I made it to the field by about 10:15 and started getting to know the Israeli National Juniors teams. For the first hour the teams worked through light throwing and paperwork tasks. (There are 17 players on the U-20 girls team, 17 on the U-17 open team, and 15 on the U-20 open team.) After dynamic warm ups the kids worked through some throwing drills. Next, the three teams worked on different skills. The girls worked on zone O and D, and the open teams worked on more throwing drills.
I had a great time walking around and helping out where I could. I talked to the girls about the right way to turn on cuts, and helped some of the U-17 boys with the form on their hammer throws. Some English was spoken during practice, but for the majority of the time everyone spoke Hebrew. I love seeing Ultimate played in non-English languages! At around 2pm Chelsea, Maggie, and I walked a bit south for lunch and had a round of wonderful hummus and pita. Before walking back I became side tracked with (another) cheese shop and bough a nice slice of a blue chevre.
Back at the fields the three teams were again split up and working on various drills. The U-20 open team did a half field horizontal stack drill, the girls worked on more defensive sets, and the U-17 team scrimmaged. Over the next several hours practice continued as the rest of the park filled up with many soccer games. Space became competitive and there were a few heated discussions about field space. (Unlimited fields in the ideal Ultimate world!) Towards the end of the session, the U-20 and U-17 teams scrimmaged on a large space between two rugby goal posts. The U-20 kids dominated, but the U-17 team was able to score a few times and had some really smooth, agressive motion with the disc.
At around 7pm all the kids were grouped up and we all walked west to the coast, and then south for a bit to an open, lit beach. While the kids played in the sand, one of the coaches went out to get lots of food. Maggie and I stayed around for a bit talking to Abe, and then began our walk home.
In 2006 I saw the first Israeli National Juniors team play at Worlds at Ft. Devens, in MA. The team was small and pretty good for a first year WJUC team. Now, six years later, Israel is sending three strong teams! It will be the first time at the event for the Israeli girls team, who came in 5th at the European Youth Champ last year. You can learn more about the World Junior Ultimate Championships right here.
In a couple hours I’m going to walk back to the Sportek fields to help out with the second day of practice. Then, later this afternoon we’re going to drive to Jerusalem to connect with Karym who is going to drive us to Jericho for a clinic.