We are excited to announce Discie Chicks as our first partners in a new European Women’s Development Initiative. Discie Chicks are a team that competes in the Women’s division of the UK Tour events and pride themselves on offering an inclusive environment to foster and refines player's skills during the season. They welcome new players onto the team and actively encourage them to try out for other clubs at the end of the season. We had the pleasure of chatting to captain Fowzia Mahmood about how the team began, the players involved and their upcoming season:
Fowzia, what’s your own background in Ultimate?
I started playing in my second year of university at King's College London (KCL). A bunch of my friends and I went to try around 10 different sports and societies but we found that the benchmark was too high and that other sports weren’t as welcoming as Ultimate. Although we weren’t great to start, we were instantly hooked. Despite never having played sports before the team was really encouraging and constantly got us out to go to tournament and socials.
Which year was the team born and what inspired you to create the team?
In Summer 2013 myself and a couple of friends from KCL and Imperial decided to create the team. We all had captaincy or leadership experience but found that there was very few options for us to play competitively over summer, and thus Discies was born! We wanted to ensure it was an encouraging environment from the start that would help women in similar situations to ourselves experience competitive club play.
Logistically, what are the biggest challenges of running the team? How do you get information out there about the programme?
There are two main challenges associated with running Discies year on year. The first is that I do all the administration for the team every year; including entering teams to tournaments and coordinating the players. The second is getting the word out and recruiting players for the team each year. We try to recruit everywhere we can, by talking to other players at tournaments and relying on word of mouth from ex-Discie’s. It’s always the case for university students that playing competitively over summer makes a huge difference to your skill so it's great to hear when University team captains are encouraging their players to join us for the summer. Whilst it is a great deal of work, I always ask myself if it is worth it and the answer, every year, is yes!
Who are some of the teams that you enjoy playing at each competition?
It’s always great to play any teams that have ex-Discie’s on the line. Reading are a great example of this, and it always results in a very spirited match up. Uprising have a mixture of experience on their team, which include a few beginners, so we get some great match ups against them. Though they have now disbanded, games against Relentless were great. They played hard and didn’t use matches against us as practice. We appreciated that they showed us respect by giving us a really tough match every single time. Lastly, I hope we get the chance to play SMOG ladies this year.
What do you think are some steps both individual players, and team leaders, in the UK can take to help increase the amount of Women participating in Ultimate?
I believe that the players are there; but it's all about retention. Leaders and individuals need to recognize that the atmosphere of a team/training/pick-up can make or break a player's participation in the future. As a basic guide, I would say: don't write off players too quickly, give constructive criticism and feedback, and give them a reason to come back!
What advice would you give to anyone looking to join the team this year?
My advice would be that no matter how intimidated or scared you are to play in the Tour events over summer with us, you will always finish the weekend with a smile and know that you have improved.