#TuksUltimate: Fair play is why Tarryn Funnell loves playing ultimate frisbee

Posted on March 06, 2023

One Tarryn Funnell is passionate about when it comes to playing sports is fair play. 

This is why she plays ultimate frisbee. The BSc Architecture student at Tuks is part of the South African Wilddogs team squad that will compete at the upcoming WFDF World Under-24 Ultimate Championships in Nottingham in July 2023. 

The organisers expect about a thousand athletes from 30 countries to compete. The Wilddogs have attended two previous world championships. In 2015, they finished 6th, and in 2019 they won the Spirit of the Game. It is a unique concept of the sport.

Refereeing has become an integral part of modern sports; however, it does not mean everyone always appreciates the decisions the "whistle-blowers" make. 

Every so often, there appears a headline on the sports pages of a newspaper in which someone criticises some referee for unfairly influencing the outcome of a game.

Ultimate frisbee is one sport where this never happens and with good reason. The sport relies upon a ‘Spirit of the Game’. It places the responsibility for fair play on every player. There are no referees; the players are solely responsible for following and enforcing the rules, even at World Championship.

According to Funnell, competitive play is encouraged but never at the expense of respect between players. Everything boils down to players having to admit when they make mistakes. 

Ultimate frisbee mixes football, basketball and rugby elements, substituting the ball with a flying disc. It was invented and popularised in high schools and universities in the United States in the '60s'. Ultimate Frisbee is now known in many countries only as "Ultimate" because Frisbee is a registered trademark.

Points are scored by getting the disc to one of your players in the end zone by passing it through the air. A player cannot run with the disk and must stop when they receive it. The player in possession has 10 seconds in which to pass the disk. If they don't, they cede control to the opposition. It is a non-contact sport. The first team to score 15 points or is ahead by at least two points will be declared the winner.  

Funnell is the Head of Development at TuksUltimate. According to her, the club is in a rebuilding phase. 

"At the numbers, our memberships numbers fluctuate quite a bit. At times we can have up to 14 players at a training session. It means there are two teams. But I would like more students to join us. Playing Ultimate is an excellent way to clear one's mind while exercising."

The Tuks student-athletes likes to take up new challenges. While at school in Durban, she was an avid rock climber. She represented KwaZulu Natal at a provincial level. One of her training partners used to be Erin Sterkenburg, who represented South Africa at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.

- Author Wilhelm De Swardt

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