February 4th, 2019AD. A day prophesized by every famous clairvoyant, including the Mayans, Nostradamus and even the Greek oracle Pythia. A cataclysmic event caused by a head-on collision between the two biggest giants of the Ultimate Flying Disc scene*. It was said that the raw power of this event could tear the very fabric of reality and it would take exceptional circumstances to prevent the destruction of the known universe. These thoughts were running through my head as I stepped onto the field… Wait, is that UCT and Chilli? Where is Northern Lights? Am I at the right stadium??? (I was not).
Twenty minutes on and a few traffic fines later, I arrived at the actual battlefield of the ‘Northern Derby’** between Maties and Northern Lights. Both teams were warmed up and excited to play, and a light downfield breeze blessed the upcoming match. For Maties, this was their first league game of the year. Finishing in the middle of the log in 2018, they wanted to start off the season right with a win against a team they could normally beat.
Northern Lights, on the other hand, had something to prove. Previous years had been tenuous, where there wasn’t as much competitive success as there was slow and consistent growth. Every spirit huddle had at least one opponent comment that we had ‘so much potential’, and this year we hoped to harness some of that into meaningful results. To get to the next level of competition and to become a respectable team, Coach Coetzee had been working hard to instil some game sense, tactics and endurance into a team that was used to chaos and pizza. He had a dependable council supporting him, including (but not limited to) Landshark, Sunshine, Pieter FJvVFzzVFF, Dirty Harry and social chair that never organized any socials. (Seriously Annie, I am on the brink of organizing a coup d’état).
The starting pull set the events in motion and it was go-time. The first 4 points of the game seemed to go by in a flash, and suddenly it was a draw at 2-2. It was strange and exhilarating to be in a match where we were actually keeping up with the opponent. Both teams were playing a zone, Maties opting for a cup defence while Lights sticking to Junk. Maties’ attack was unpredictable and effective while Lights stuck to a handler-focused style with occasional hucks. Things were perfectly balanced, as all things should be, but the early back and forth harmony did not hold forever. As the competitiveness from both teams heightened, there was a disturbance in the force.
Bodies started to collide, blood spilt and bones shattered. (Editor’s note: both teams were marked down for body contact on their spirit scores). Losses on both teams were staggering, and the survivors of this encounter were surely going to suffer severe PTSD, a sprained ankle and an imprint of Hanno’s face on Annie’s knee. I am sure there was even a travel call at one stage! Coach Coetzee tightened his grip on the reins of our team, not letting us fall into the bad habits of disorganization and panic. Despite his best efforts, at halftime, Maties were ahead 8 -4, putting Lights into an all-too-familiar position. Was this going to be the end for Light’s ambitions for a win? Were we destined to be ‘that’ team, always one sandwich short of a picnic?
One thing about this beautiful team of mine that I have lived through and loved, is that no matter how bad things are going, we do not drop our heads. When things are at its darkness, it is then that Northern Lights truly shines.
Here you will find various voices raising morale and keeping the hearts and heads of the troops positive. Two voices for me personally were always heard and like a lighthouse to our ship at sea. Anyone that day will testify that Pieter and Siya’s energy and encouragements were never-ending, and were instrumental in keeping us going.
And so we went into the second half, unwavering, in the face of a goliath we marched. It was at this point something miraculous started to unfold. Hannolycia did their thing, making mad plays and shouting “yip yip yip” like a pack of wild dogs. Sheu and Tate showed us what they could do, as they inflated our score like the Zim Dollar. Even our newer players were guided by an invisible guardian. Edme’s hands turned into actual glue, catching every disc that came her way and scoring a few points. Jess, Nathon and Sofia outperformed themselves every opportunity they got. And of course, the remainder of the usual suspects played their hearts out, anchoring the team with their resilience and experience.
Inch by inch, we crawled our way out of the jaws of defeat, narrowing the scoreline, and eventually surpassing Maties. They fought back hard and after a few more points, it all came down to this – the aptly named ‘Universe Point’. Whoever scored the next point would be crowned the winners of the day and their names would be sung and rehearsed in every bard’s poem and tune. To a teammate on the sideline, I said “who could miss such an extraordinary moment, while the fate of the universe hung in the balance?” and when I turned back to watch the game, our team was shaking hands with Maties in euphoric victory. Sofia and Sunshine did us proud and won the game on a lady’s point.
Jokes and over-exaggerations aside, I consider myself lucky to have witnessed a downtrodden team persist through insurmountable odds and countless losses to win against a skilled and respected team. The genuine happiness I saw in every one of my teammates’ faces will stick with me. Thank you Maties for making your way to our side of the world and playing such a fantastic game, and well-done Lights, let’s keep on shinin’.
*excluding any teams not in Stellenbosch or Bellville
**Technically Maties isn’t north at all, but we hope it will stick nonetheless
Author: Orielle Gomes
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|Maties 1||9 (-1 body contact)||Macro|