While this breaks up the feel of the competition, you can’t take away from the pride on players faces as they took to the fields to represent their countries and embrace their worlds experience. However, with the separation, my day was primarily spent around showcase fields 13 and 14 which mostly featured games in the men’s division. While I was only able to see a selection of teams play, I thoroughly enjoyed day one of the competition and have compiled list of some highlights.
The first couple hours of my day were spent commentating the Canada vs. Ireland first round pool play match up in the men’s division. The score itself was very one sided in favour of the Canadians, who pulled off the 15-6 win, but the Irish were right in there for a lot of the game. In the match, Irish created an unbelievable highlight worthy moment with a double layout Callahan in the first half. Down 7-4, Ireland came out firing to get a massive layout block in the Canadians endzone. The disc flew towards to back of the pitch and seemingly out of nowhere, Jack MacNamara came flying in for the Irish with a full extension layout grab to score an epic Callahan goal for his team. Despite not coming away with a better result from the game, it is certainly a moment that no one on that team will forget.
IRE vs CAN Day 1
Team Australia men’s team played their first game of the day in the battle of Down Under against New Zealand. It was an intense game where the Goannas pulled away to take the win over the Kiwis. I was able to watch this one from the sideline in my break between games, and noticed a black armband taped onto the jersey of each member of the Australian team. Upon asking their manager, I was told that one of their teammate’s grandfathers passed away two days before the tournament began. The player found out while with his team in Heidelberg preparing for the event. It is something that you hope would never happen to one of your teammates, but in difficult circumstances it is truly special to see a team rally around their friend. The Goannas are focusing on their tournament while honouring their teammate as well as working on keeping his spirits high and enjoying the world championships.
Unfortunately, during the men’s game between Australia and New Zealand, one of the captains of the New Zealand team, Tristan Mercer, sustained an injury to his left ankle. Mercer was out with an injured ankle at 2018 worlds in Perth as well, so another ankle blow here was visibly frustrating. A few hours after the battle of Down Under had finished, I wandered over to watch the end of New Zealand men’s game against China.
On the sideline, the team Australia physio was with Mercer helping to diagnose his injury, as well as tape him up to give him support to heal for the rest of the week. Not only was Mercer in much better spirits, but it was amazing to witness federations working together and helping each other out where they can. It reminded me that the spirit of our game continues past the lines on the pitch and is carried on through our community in moments like this.
Heal fast, Tristan!
I have been lucky to work with several members of our commentary team at previous events, so being able to be reunited with them here in Heidelberg has been a ton of fun so far. Liam Grant and I got to commentate the first game of the day together, bringing our own in-booth Canada v Ireland match-up to go with the game on the pitch and having a great time while calling it. Later in the day, I took to the mic with Tom Styles for the Canada v Italy men’s game. Despite it being a year since I have worked with Tom, we established our on-air chemistry in a heartbeat and got into a groove. The ability to get back on air so effortlessly after such a long time working together was an exciting feeling in both the games I called today, as it is only the first full day of competition here, and the best is yet to come from the players and from us in the booth. The rest of the day was spent building these friendships, watching great ultimate and supporting each other as well as the rest of the ulti.tv crew to get our best work done. I feel so lucky to get to work with such a great group of people.
With six more days to go at the World U24 Ultimate Championships here in Heidelberg, we have only just gotten started and it is shaping up the most exciting edition of U24 worlds yet.
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