The annual “Big Phat Phnom Penh Hat” (BPPPH) ultimate Frisbee tournament was back and bigger than ever at the weekend, with more than 150 participants hailing from over 16 different countries.
Ultimate Frisbee, a mixed-gender sport, is rapidly growing in popularity worldwide and was given full recognition by the International Olympic Committee last year.
It now has two professional leagues in the US and the international governing body has over 60 national member associations.
In Cambodia, the sport is growing too, with the all-Cambodian “Swa” team having played in two international tournaments last year and planning to attend at least one more this year.
The increased interest of Cambodians in this originally expat-run sport was reflected by the fact this eighth edition was in large part organised by Cambodian tournament co-director Yoeun Vicheka.
Ultimate Frisbee is played in teams of seven players, who score points by sending the disc-shaped frisbee across the endzones by passing it among teammates. Since the sport is self-refereed, sportsmanship is central and is codified in the rules as “The Spirit of the Game”.
While most tournaments are team affairs, ultimate also organises “hat” tournaments in which individual players sign up and are assigned to teams by being “picked out of a hat” – literally in the case of the BPPPH.
This set-up allows inexperienced players to play with experienced players from all over the world, but also encourages socialising between players from different backgrounds and cultures.
“This year’s ‘Hat’ was a great success [in that respect], with many experienced players, some who will play at the World Championship in London this summer, but also multiple Cambodian players in each of the 10 teams,” said Florent Zwiers, the Dutch tournament co-director.
As well as showcasing their skills on the field, the Cambodian players impressed the foreign visitors with great parties and music in town.
“It’s my first time to join the tournament. I have learned a lot and am grateful for the advice I received. I’ll always remember it and will keep practising to improve my skill.
We were an amazing team and I hope to play with these people again,” said Chan Ratha Van, 20, from winning team Friendly Dan Druff.
Zwiers said: “The wide range of high-level players from around the world who played this year has provided an even greater opportunity for the less experienced Cambodian players to learn from.”
The event was supported by national and international sponsors including Aussie XL, Mulatto, Raytecs, Brunty’s, House Boutique and 3 Mangos.