Ultimate sporting siblings
When Camborne’s Neal siblings play frisbee on the beach, they attract some stares.
Brothers Andrew and Aaron, and their sister Bekah, are no weekend amateurs – all are in Osaka, Japan this week competing for New Zealand in their sport, ultimate frisbee. Another sister, Tamarah, qualified for the championships but withdrew for financial reasons.
The family got hooked on frisbee when Andrew, 26, signed up to the sport at a Victoria University clubs day in 2005.
‘‘I thought, ‘that couldn’t be too hard’. I went along and it was really fun,’’ he says.
Andrew went on to become president of the Wellington Ultimate Frisbee executive and was voted Wellington’s best male player in 2010 and 2012 and most valued player in 2011. His siblings took to the sport just as enthusiastically.
Bekah, 23, is now an executive member and is setting up a ‘‘frisbee in schools’’ programme, and Aaron, 21, single-handedly revived the sport at Canterbury University. He was New Zealand’s under-23 captain last year.
Frisbee is such a pre-occupation for the siblings that their mother has banned the topic at mealtimes.
‘‘Mum gets sick of us always talking about it,’’ Andrew says.
Ultimate frisbee, simply called ‘‘ ultimate’’ by players, was invented in the United States in 1968 and now counts five million players in America. It’s a growing sport in New Zealand – there are about 1000 players in New Zealand, 600 of them in Wellington.
The rules are similar to netball and American football. Teams of seven players score at end zones of a field but cannot run while in possession of the frisbee.
‘‘Like football, it’s a beautiful game to watch. The way the disc flies is beautiful,’’ Aaron says.
Also like football, ultimate is not as easy as it looks, he says. Anyone can throw a frisbee but amateurs find it hard to throw strong and accurate serves, especially forehand.
‘‘A lot of people can flick it but to actually get a good throw, it does feel quite weird.’’
Having an unusual skill is part of the attraction for Bekah.
‘‘It’s nice that not everyone can do it. Throwing a frisbee takes a little bit of time to learn.’’
Bekah will compete in women’s team Whaitiri, while both brothers will play in the NZ Open team. America, Japan, Canada and Australia will be the toughest competition, the siblings reckon.
‘‘It’ll be a pretty great experience,’’ Bekah says.
Frisbee fling: Camborne siblings Aaron, Bekah and Andrew Neal are in Japan this week representing New Zealand in their unusual sport, ultimate frisbee.