When my friends and I learned that London would be the host city for the 2016 World Flying Disc Federation’s World Ultimate and Guts Championships, we immediately began plotting the Ultimate vacation (all puns intended). For those of you who aren’t aware of the sport of Ultimate, it is a fast-paced game that takes place on a field the size of a soccer (football) field with two end zones (American football) for scoring in. Watch this video for the basics and come back when you’re finished. I’ll wait here.
Fantastic! Now that you’re all caught up, I’ll continue my story.
Since I don’t know how to take a vacation without my camera and I have a bit of background in photographing Ultimate (team photographer, what-what!), I thought to myself, “Why not try and photograph at Worlds? Yeah! Why NOT try and photograph at Worlds!?” I was off.
I sent an email to the WUGC support center asking how I could photograph at the event. Anthony replied and sent me to their website which had the media accreditation forms. They had two different media application forms: non-professional and professional. I probably could have gone the non-professional route, but one of the members of the Men’s Team USA was a player from the New York Empire. If the New York Empire ever wanted to use those photos, I would have to go to Worlds as a professional. Which I am.
I started filling out the WFDF Media Accreditation application form. Most of it was pretty easy (first name, check! last name, check!), but then I came across “Media I.D. card No./AIPS card No.” I had no idea what this was. Thank goodness for the world wide web! A quick search revealed that AIPS stands for Association Internationale de la Presse Sportive. Founded in Paris on July 3, 1924, the AIPS is “an international organization” whose intent is “to bring together sports journalists from across the globe” (AIPS History, Page 9-10). I needed to be a member if I wanted to photograph any large international sporting events like this, or the Olympics.
Once my AIPS application was complete, I figured that was that. Alas, no such luck. AIPS required I contact the National Sports Media Association in order to complete my registration. I did another internet search and was emailing Dave Goren in no time! I needed to provide:
- payment for a two-year membership to NSMA
- a color copy of my passport
- a supporting letter from my employer, or if I freelance, from an outlet for which I work.
The first two were easily obtained, and I asked the New York Empire to provide me with the supporting letter as it was the sport I was going to photograph in the first place. With both my applications AIPS and NSMA applications in, all that was left to do was hurry up and wait for my ID cards.
My AIPS card didn’t arrive on time because of the mad rush for the 2016 Summer Olympics and a mix up with my ID photo. The WFDF was kind enough to grant me Media Accreditation with just the AIPS Card number and not the card itself. I was going to photograph Worlds!
Photographing at Worlds was amazing! And wet. It rained almost every day we were there to one degree or another. My friends and I had purchased tickets for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday game play since a few of us had landed in England early Wednesday morning. Unfortunately for us (and the teams), it rained so much on Thursday that spectators weren’t allowed on the field. We would have to wait until Friday to see it live. Luckily, all games were streamed live on the internet thanks to a Kickstarter campaign launched by the WFDF. Using some new fangled gadgetry, we were able to feed the stream onto the television and watch from the comfort of the indoors!
Friday, the fields reopened to the public! What was wonderful about WUGC was the sheer size of it. There were 38 different nations represented by women’s teams, men’s teams, mixed teams, and master’s teams. Fields were within feet of one another. In front of you was Colombia versus Germany while behind you was Hong Kong versus India. The common language was Ultimate, and it was more than enough.
We watched some of the masters games before heading over to the men’s semi-finals. I grabbed some photos of Australia versus Japan and capped the day off with a combination usually reserved for the AUDL season: America versus Canada. Japan and America were the winners of their games and were set to play one another the next day at Allianz Park.
Allianz Park is usually the home of the Saracens Rugby Club, but on July 25, 2016, it belonged to Ultimate. With my press pass, I was able to photograph parts of the women’s game and the men’s game. There were quite a few other photographers with different affiliations, but we were fairly polite and managed to respected each other’s camera space. I didn’t photograph as much as I probably could have, but I didn’t go to Worlds just to work. I wanted to enjoy watching the sport I’d grown to love more than baseball. That’s right, people, you heard it here: Ultimate is my favorite sport, and I hope to help it grow in popularity with every picture.