Seeding, predicting or handicapping the Mixed division in any tournament is a fool’s game. Make it an international beach tournament and your guess is as good as mine.
Furthermore the Mixed division more than any other is about team chemistry, new shenanigans and the Spirit of the Game.
And there’s a new twist for a tournament like this: many countries whose key players are sidelined by EUC’s, CUCs, EYUCs and other championship tournaments of the past week or two have chosen to eschew women and open and stack their mixed teams in hopes of medaling. Already confirmed on this strategy are Great Britain and Australia and I am sure there are others.
So in all this regard let’s go ahead and preview the SOTG in Mixed.
We’ll start with the Dutch team, or D-CUB. D-CUB has won SOTG at a number of warm-up tournaments and helped to run the popular and throwdown Monsterball in the Netherlands. Furthermore to buff up their resume they are traveling by van from Holland down to the tournament and picking up frisbee hitchhikers on the way. Right now they’re number one in my book although I may be biased.
Right behind them is the Belgian team, also multiple Spirit winners, also sporting the dope colors and with their number 8 seeding are primed to receive votes from both the top teams and the middle-of-the-pack. Known throughout Paganello as Jet Set they bring a pedigree at the top of the heap.
Let’s not forget about the defending champions, Brazil. These guys and girls know how to shake it and make it – caipirinhas, mojitos, the lambada — be wary, very wary, of the big Brazilian booty.
Neon will always boost your chances with the Spirit and if my memory serves correct, the Polish club Mixed team from Prague last year couldn’t have been more garish or less enthusiastic about playing. They were disco-tastic! So don’t be deceived by the white and red—just check their underwear.
The United Arab Expatriates, er, Emirates team deserves a look. Inspired to play ultimate and booted off the grass fields they took to the Dubai beach and with BULA’s support, started the first-ever Dubai Cup this year. But as players all mixed and mingled there, WCBU will be there first-ever tournament as a team and everyone loves a virgin ultimate team.
Now, quickly toward the Americans. As the founding father of both ultimate and the competitive Mixed division, they deserve consideration. The team is populated with Californians which they should have the California cool and a healthy sense of mellowness. Dark horses to make the semis of Spirit they can’t yet be counted out.
If pictures are worth a thousand words then Estonia wins this division outright. Already the pink and blue uniforms stir the gentle memory banks of happy childhoods. But look at the big air! The happy smiles! The bright blue sky and soft tan sand! This team knows how to look good by feeling good and feeling good is contagious.
Traditionally throughout the sands of time there have been the drums of tribal joys and ecstatic partying, and these drums have belonged to the Yanomami, the Venezuelan team named for a native tribe “discovered” in the 1970s. Winners of every Spirit Award before there was such a thing as the Spirit Award, the Yanomami have long brought it to the dance floor and even though the Mami’s time has come and gone, the Spirit will always be strong with Venezuela.
Let’s raise a pint to the Irish. I had the pleasure in 2009 of attempting, and failing, to go pint for pint with a couple of Irish lassies at the Barge, Paganello’s post-2am hot spot. To count this team out of SOTG at this tournament would be a mistake. They are cheery, they usually will be sporting fake tattoos, and they are still learning the game. All of this points to serious Spirit consideration.
And bringing up the conga line, if they do conga lines in Lisboa I am not sure, but Portugal is the heart and soul of not only ultimate, but this tournament. The inimitable spirit maven van der Valk started BULA, runs the Spirit committee on WFDF, parties with everyone and anyone, and brings a team of energetic and joyous boys and girls that make ultimate such a great sport to play. Not to mention—they are the defending SOTG winners from the European Beach Championships. Serious business.