New place, new sport

By Tshepo Thaela


It’s the beginning of 2014 and I, a bright eyed and bushy tailed first year at the University of the Witwatersrand, am walking around what was then called the Old Mutual Sports Hall, looking for some sports clubs to join. Growing up in Centurion, most of my school friends went to the University of Pretoria so I needed to make new friends for my new journey.


Being a sportsman in high school made the plan simple, join sports clubs to meet as many new people outside of my own course as possible. After going straight to the hockey and running clubs I am taken aback by all the sports on offer. Mountain climbing, gymnastics and even sailing! Now I’m no geographer, but last I checked Joburg was nowhere near any coast.


As I’m walking around, a video on a laptop catches my eye. At first glace it looks like some sport like soccer or rugby, but upon closer inspection I notice one of the players are holding something that certainly isn’t a ball. The next moment the object is thrown and as it travels through the air, I realise that it must be a frisbee. [1] As I admire the frisbee’s flight it is suddenly plucked out of the air by a player jumping up majestically to the right.[2] 

What did I just witness?


Before I can process this another highlight is came up of someone throwing the frisbee… like a ball? [3] Immediately my mind was racing – But how? And not only that but also, how on earth is it traveling so far? It flew the length of the entire field!

What did I just witness?


More and more of these highlights continue playing, I then see a player make an ankle snapping sidestep before catching it over the line. Next, I see another of a player chasing a frisbee at full pace and as the frisbee is literally inches off the ground, they dive forward to catch it in the nick of time. After seeing a player throw a the frisbee out of the field for it to curve into the field and get caught by a teammate who leaped so high that they almost jumped over their defender, I had to ask the lady and gent on the other side of the laptop:


“What did I just witness?”


The two of them laugh and the lady replies with a friendly but still enthusiastic smile “It’s Ultimate Frisbee and it’s pretty cool right?”  


I reply with my eyes still glued to the laptop, “That’s for sure, this is probably the most interesting thing I’ve seen all day! Can you guys throw like that?” I point to the screen as a player throws the frisbee like a ball?[4] 

The gent modestly puts his hands up and says, “Not that well, but yeah we can”.

“And we could teach you too. The best time for newbies to come is on Fridays when we have pick up,” said the woman.

“What’s a pick up?” I asked a little confused.

“It’s a casual continuous game of frisbee. Honestly, there is no better way to learn the game and meet new people. We have a big one for the freshers this Friday, you should sign up and join”.


And basically, that was that. I joined the Wits Ultimate Frisbee club there and then without knowing that I made the decision that would define my (rather extensive) university career.

Little did I know that I’d be traveling to national tournaments with who would eventually become my closest friends, and it all started as something I’d casually do on Fridays to look cool next time I went to the beach.


Scroll to top