Master Team built of Parents and retired Players in Bologna
Building a Master Team
Retaining Master Players
Making a Master Team part of a Younger Ultimate Frisbee Community
The development of a Master Ultimate Frisbee team at CUSB. How to involve them in a young frisbee community such as CUSB one and why is it important having a Master division in your club.
The first step has been organizing some “parents-children” matches on the occasion of social events (for instance, the end-of-the-year party). It was an easy way to involve some parents and create a sense of community. After those events, the idea to create a Master team was born. Unfortunately, due to a lack of fields, the beginning of the project needed to be postponed.
Later, some parents autonomously joined their children's teams to play a one-day beach tournament organized by CUSB (Bolobeach Tournament). The format was mixed and even if they could contribute only for a few points, due to their limited endurance, they were more than happy to join their childrens’ team together with some other pickup players. Those were only 2 couples of parents.
Since then, the recruiting campaign began, looking for other people of the same or near the same age who could be interested in starting playing Ultimate Frisbee. It was mostly done by reaching out to other players’ parents and/or friends of those masters who already were part of the project. Plus, it was the perfect chance for some retired players, both men and women, to rejoin the ultimate community with a different mindset. The barriers for the retired women are more challenging than for the men, that usually can keep playing until they are older. The project targeted and managed to acquire some of the players that used to play before CUSB Shout (the women ultimate elite team from CUSB) was born.
The main difficulty was to find new players and keep them motivated. In fact, whether they can be way more athletic and coordinated than expected by their coach, none of them had ever played frisbee in their lives.
When the numbers started to grow, CUSB provided a field. Facilities are a usually difficult point for ultimate clubs. Since CUSB usually targets university players, the master's team was not a top priority. The field was provided in lights of the social importance of the project (both for community and for fighting the well-known retirement after a certain age pattern) - that goes beyond the team itself.
At the very beginning, the number of men and women was dead even, as all the members of the team were married couples. Half a year later or so we managed to also involve some PE high school teachers in the project and so we had a couple more men and women joining the team. Luckily we have an amazing network with teachers in Bologna (thanks to CUSB and its school program) who are familiar with the sport, making it easier to convince them that they’re not too old to join a team.
To retain a group of old players it is important to set short-term goals. In addition, I believe it would be easier to focus on tournaments as objectives (to set a specific timeline) and avoid pushing on the more abstract goal of improvement. For instance, for CUSB’s master players the ultimate goal was to play Paganello together.
Another important factor in retaining the players was the fact that they were also basically all couples who already knew each other outside the ultimate field helped a lot in keeping them involved and motivated.
Moreover, I believe their kids played a huge part in that too, challenging them and doing some “home lessons” as well sometimes.
Regarding the sportive performance, I wouldn’t say there are gender differences in the team, as almost none of them played before. You must keep in mind that the majority of them are over 45 and, for these reasons, you could say that there are no huge physical differences between men and women, in terms of both raw power and technical skills.
Regarding the training, a big difference compared to a younger team is that all the master players have a job (which may not be obvious in the first place). For this reason, we decided to set a favourable time for practice (only once per week), trying to make it affordable even for those who work shifts.
As we didn't train much since the team was born, we didn’t really have a chance to talk about captains and/or team leaders. This may also be given by the fact that they don’t really care about competition but just want to have some good time with their friends (or couple), playing a sport they like. They’re all aware that they don’t share the same learning curve and that they may not be at the same level, that’s why they always have a positive attitude towards mistakes and they don’t take practices too seriously (even if some practices included some high-level conditioning circuits).
Aside from being Masters, you must keep in mind that this is the only team in the whole CUSB system who train and play mixed the whole season, without even having a dedicated championship. Of course, the main reason could be that there are not enough women and men to make two separate teams, but they started this way and their coach doesn't see them wanting to split even if there were the chance.
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE MASTER TEAM AND CUSB COMMUNITY
We believe having a Master team in a club may bring several advantages.
Firstly, the team can help unify the community, showing that it’s never too late to start playing Ultimate Frisbee (or just doing some physical exercise).
Secondly, having a master team it’s really useful as it gives the trainers a chance to evolve and learn to differentiate and develop new programs and exercises suited for players of different age from the one we’re used to dealing with.
Thirdly, involving players’ parents in the community makes the latter be more aware of what their children do and consequently, to trust CUSB more regarding their children's education and physical activity.
Furthermore, we mustn’t forget that the greatest supporters of a player are their parents! So teaching them how to play while having fun, is a great way to make them support the sport itself.
Moreover, involving parents grows the chances to find sponsorships for the club.
Releted Best Practices
Ensure that the training facilities have the necessary infrastructure for the comfort of female players
Emphasise and promote what makes your association or your sport special
Create environment where everyone feels comfortable to talk about safety and inclusivity sensitive issues
Recruit relatives or retired players and have them getting involved in your association
Create season rituals - season kickoff meeting - season review meeting - end of season celebration
Cooperate with schools and PE teachers to showcase or coach pupils your sport
Choose a location and the training times suitable for young women
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