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Borneo Headhunters Hat: Ultimate Frisbee competition

Published on 08 March 2018|
2 min read

If you like to join a non-contact sport, then a flying disc or frisbee is just the sport for you!

by Tommy Duncan, Carrybeans

Last weekend, frisbee teams gave it their all at the Borneo Headhunter’s Hat (BHH) 2018, the biggest ultimate frisbee competition in Borneo! Local and international teams faced off for two days of fun, near-flying and heart-stopping moments.

A tournament that brings together a growing frisbee community

The event took place from 3-4 March at the SUKMA field, and this year saw a 10% increase in participation. According to organisers, around 750 participants indicated their interest to join the competition, but due to capacity BHH could only accommodate 270 participants.

Hailed as the biggest event of its kind in Borneo, BHH first began in 2010 with only 36 players. Now in its eighth year, it’s seen great growth with with many international players coming in. This year’s champion was Team Green, while Team Dark Grey took home the Spirit Award (uphold fairness, promote bond of friendship and teamwork, celebrating the spirit of the game).

BHH 2018 Champions: Team Green / Credit: Srapdsign

Tournament Director Dinoza Mahruf has personally played ultimate for more than a decade, and is one of Sabah’s greatest advocates. In addition to building the sport here, he believes this annual event will boost sports tourism for the state.

“They (the players) like to come to play here in Sabah as they can move on to a field trip or leisure vacation after, tying their itinerary with climbing Mount Kinabalu, island-hopping, scuba diving and white water rafting,” he said. He hopes that the tournament will be a catalyst for more locals to pick up ultimate, and is willing to introduce the sport to interested schools.

BHH 2018 Spirit Award: Dark Grey / Credit: Srapdsign

What’s ultimate frisbee, and how is it played?

Ultimate frisbee is generally a no-contact sport, with contact only when two opposing players are trying to catch the flying disc. This mixed-gender game is played on a field similar in size to an American football field. There are 14 players on the field at any one time, seven from each side.

The objective of the game is to pass the disc from one teammate to another and deliver it safely to the end zone (a square area at the end of the field), upon which a point is cored.

It’s a very unique sport in that it doesn’t have a referee! Any disputes are settled between teams.

Let’s hear from the players themselves

“I started to play during my university days back in 2012. Coming to Sabah and seeing a lot young blood playing the game, I really hope that they will take it to the big stage one day and have high hopes for Malaysian ultimate frisbee.” said Amos Tan, 28. The KL engineer trained twice a week in preparation for the event.

Alison, a contract executive from Miri, only played for a year before joining the competition. She practised every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday and really hopes that one day, ultimate will be included in the Olympics.

Lois Lo, 19, was there to cheer on a friend. She only found out about the sport through the friend, and now that she’s seen the game first-hand, she’s excited to give it a try. “I really hope Malaysia will pay more attention to the game so that more people will know and join it. I also wish all the participants the best,” she said.

However, there seems to still be lack of awareness or interest in ultimate, as there wasn’t much of a crowd other than participants loitering around the field. Several by-standers popped by, but didn’t stay long. Let’s hope for greater awareness of this unique sport soon!

What’s in the future for ultimate here in Sabah?

Credit: Srapdsign

Dinoza hopes that by next year, the event will have full support from the Sabah Tourism Board and the ministry as there is great potential to boost the state’s economy through sports tourism.

“We [are] really looking forward to do a beach tournament as many of our players love to play at the beach. Two beaches that we find suitable are Nexus Karambunai and Rasa Ria. We also hope for an inter-school competition,” he said.

This year, SMK Talaga (Pitas) and SMK Langkon (Kota Marudu) participated in the tournament. It is believed that ultimate was first introduced by US expat Ken Kassem around 12 years ago. Today, there are three frisbee teams in Sabah, namely BHH, Husky from Universiti Malaysia Sabah as well as MILF (Man I Love Frisbee).

Are you interested in joining the sport, or giving it a try? Head on over to BHH’s Facebook and find out what’s going on next!

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Featured Image Credit: Srapdsign

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