Number of active players: ~200
Notable beach tournaments: Fonyód and Beach Please!
Past participation in beach championships: WCBU 2004, 2011
Division participation at ECBU 2013: Mixed, Open
Hungary has had ultimate for over 20 years, but one couldn’t say the sport has really taken off in the country. There are just a handful of teams competing in the annual, two-round Hungarian national championships, and just a few that can be considered competitive internationally. That said, a Hungarian club team did qualify for the EUC Finals in 2011 and just missed out in 2012, so at the highest level, the players can and do play well and are at the same level with most of the best teams in the region. Hungarian teams participate regularly in regional and international tournaments including European and World Championships.
Lacking a seacoast does substantially restrict one’s opportunities of playing beach ultimate, and although Hungary does have a huge lake, it has no sandy beaches, which doesn’t help either. This may be the reason why Hungarians are especially keen on beautiful seacoasts, and a team from Hungary goes to one or two of Europe’s major beach tournaments every year.
In previous years, Hungary has participated in World and European championships on beach and grass in the mixed division, with varying results. This summer for the first time ever, the country is also fielding an open team, which is a success in itself. That said, people who know Hungarian players know that neither of these teams should be underestimated.
Some of the players on the mixed team have represented Hungary at every international beach event we have participated in so far. Naturally, this says more about their talent than about their age…
Truth be told, the team was originally planning to go for the mixed masters division, but since they couldn’t get enough masters ladies to commit, they spiced up their squad with some young talent and opted for the mixed division. The core of the team is made up of one club team (Huncut – yes, it’s a play on words and it’s quite a funny name in Hungarian) from Budapest, with a few other young girls and boys from here and there. Many of the players have vast experience playing on sand, while others have almost none but are young enough to learn very quickly. They are joined by two Swiss friends who have played an integral part in Hungary’s beach ultimate life for years.
Most of the team – though under a different name – played in Bibione this spring to prepare for ECBU, and the Beach Please! tournament in Budapest completed their preparation early June. The rest of the preparation concentrated on other aspects of beach ultimate tournaments.
The Hungarian Frisbee Association is very happy and excited about fielding an open team in a major championship for the first time ever this year. In previous years, there were never enough top male players who could commit their time and money to go to these tournaments, but this year it has all come together nicely. Hungary is fielding a squad of 15 of the best players in the country coming from four different clubs, with an ideal mix of young and younger, athletic and strategic, tall and fast. A few made their beach debut this year, but the majority have played many beach tournaments, including previous WCBUs. One of the team’s players was one of the first people in Hungary to ever throw a disc, while some others are young stars playing for only one or two years – yet another ideal combination of wisdom, skill, and sheer talent. About a third of the Open team’s players live abroad and practice regularly with top teams in Denmark, Finland, Austria and Switzerland. The average age on the team is around 26 with an average playing experience of about 10 years!
The captains organized a training camp in April to concentrate on tactics and team building, which went great (especially the team building part). The team’s self-organized preparatory tournament, Beach Please! gave them some opportunity to play together and practice playing together in the hot sun (and pouring rain too). Unfortunately a lack of financial resources prevented the players from getting more training opportunities together.
Captain Péter Kramer is confident about his squad’s chances: “We feel pretty good about our team and we’re confident that we can give any opponent a competitive, tough game. Although we are seeded 13th, we think we can get some surprise victories and finish higher than our seed. We are looking forward to discovering new styles of play from countries we have never played before and giving every team a run for their money, so watch out!”
Article by Péter Kramer