'A long time coming' Irish women's ultimate frisbee team win gold at European championships
"The strength and hard work of a small but passionate community..."
The Irish women's ultimate frisbee team has won gold at the European championships.
The team beat Switzerland 15-8 at the European Ultimate Frisbee Championships (EUC) final on Saturday afternoon.
The 21-woman squad finished top of the 15 nation tournament in Gyor, Hungary after a week-long competition in blisteringly hot temperatures of 37 degree heat.
They emerged from the 100 minute game victorious, making them the first Irish national team to ever win an international championship.
Jen Kwan, gold medallist and president of the Irish Flying Disc Association, says that for the women's team, the win was "a long time coming."
“We went into the final really confident in every single player," she says. "After half time, we sort of knew that the win was coming, it was just a question of when it was coming."
Kwan says that she and the rest of the team knew that they had a really good chance of winning the entire tournament from the outset, given the amount of training and work each player had been doing.
"The win was just a result of all that work," she says.
"When the winning goal was scored, it just felt like relief. It was happiness but it was also just like ‘I can’t believe this.’"
"It's been a long time coming for women in this community."
Ultimate frisbee has been popular in Ireland since the 1990s, with club, university, youth and school teams representing the country in various competitions and championships since.
The game is a non-contact self-referring sport that involves goal scoring with discs on a pitch with endzones on each end. A goal is scored when the disc is caught in the endzone being attacked by the team.
Ultimate frisbee has three divisions - men's, women's, and mixed. The Irish women's squad were captained by Sarah Melvin and coached by Ian French, and supported by three assistant coaches, Kwan being one of them.
She says that next on the team's agenda is the world championships next year.
"There’ll be huge teams coming from the USA, from Canada, and Australia, so it’s a very different ballgame," she says.
“It’s much harder to put yourself in a place of believing that you can win something like that.
"It’s a different goal but it’ll be the first time we can put a women’s team on the world stage like that, and be the European team that you have to beat.”
You can watch last weekend's women's ultimate frisbee final here.
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