Ultimate frisbee championships draw hundreds to Shepparton
Mikhaila Dignam chose to start playing ultimate frisbee as a university student because it was a cheap and social way to get some exercise.
A decade later the Geelong player is still hooked.
She joined her first league for $25, with the guarantee of pizza after each match and went on to represent Australia in the sport.
This week Dignam is one of more than 600 players in Shepparton for the national Mixed Ultimate Championships.
Ultimate frisbee is not played before officials and players call the shots.
"It's a very accessible sport, so you just need grass, cones and a frisbee — there's no referees required," Dignam said.
"Some people ask how that works — it does.
"From day dot when you start playing ultimate you learn about the importance of integrity and fair play and honesty in the sport."
Ultimate has existed in Australia since the 1970s and the Mixed National Championships started in 1988.
Although some only know frisbee as a game to play with pet dogs, Ms Dignam says there is talk of ultimate frisbee becoming an Olympic event.
The national championships for mixed gender teams draws competitors from across Australia to a regional city every October.
Ultimate Australia national event manager Anna Haynes has been playing for nearly 20 years.
In that time she has seen Australia's stature in the sport grow.
"We actually compete in the World Games … and this year we took out the silver medal against the US over in Birmingham," she said.
"That's one of our best results to date."
Most Australian adults would never have had an opportunity to try ultimate frisbee in primary school.
But that is starting to change, according to Ms Haynes, who says more than 8,000 Australian school children have picked up the sport.
Some athletes competing at this week's Shepparton competition will receive invitations to national selection events being held in Melbourne in November ahead of the 2023 Asian Oceanic Ultimate Championships and World U24 Ultimate Championships.
While it is an accessible sport at an amateur level, professional players are self-funded and carry on with their full-time day jobs on top of training.
Ms Dignam said it was worthwhile for the chance to represent Australia.
Competing overseas connected her to a global community of like-minded people.
She tried a lot of sports before she discovered her passion for ultimate frisbee.
"I played netball, I played soccer, I played touch football," she said.
"Ultimate's a very special sport, because of the culture and because of the care of the community.
"It's the people and the connections and just the athleticism of the game."
We acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians and Traditional Custodians of the lands where we live, learn, and work.
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