One Sporting Code Doesn't Give A Toss If You're A Man Or Woman

The new boundary-breaking league also has no referees.

Ultimate frisbee isn't just something you see people play at the beach on a summer's day.  It's a professional sport that combines elements of netball, touch football, and grid-iron.

It's also the first  Australian sport to launch the country's first gender-inclusive elite league -- where each team will be represented equally by three male and three female athletes.

"We came up with the idea for this mixed pro league where we have equal numbers of women and men on each team playing on the field at the same time," said AFLW star and Australian Ultimate league co-founder Cat Phillips. 

The national league will bring together teams from across the country including the Adelaide Dragons, Brisbane Breakers, Canberra Freeze, Melbourne Flames, Perth Power and Sydney Suns.

The Melbourne Flames will play host to the Sydney Suns on Saturday for the league's inaugural match, which will feature many of the nation's representative players.

Phillips said the idea for the new sporting league came about because of a lack of representation and opportunities for elite female athletes at the top level.

ultimate frisbee

Image: Bruce Huynh Photography

Phillips, who has been playing the sport for over a decade, said there was a lot of support for the idea.

"We've had a really great reaction from the ultimate community, everyone got behind the idea and everyone is really supportive of what we are doing," Phillips said -- adding that many of the players (like her) come from other sporting backgrounds.

"[It's] highlighting gender equity and showcasing that its possible to have that for an elite professional sports league."

"We're all really passionate about the values behind the league and what we try to create and we are hoping ... looking into the longer term, that we will get more sponsors on board."

Ultimate Aussie Community

Despite not being the most well-known sport in Australia -- worldwide the game is now played in more than 70 counties.

Phillips says the sport has expanded massively in Australia since she first picked it up as a teenager.

"The main growth has been in the youth development, getting people into it a bit earlier," Phillips said, adding that Australia regularly sends youth and under-22 and under 24-teams to compete internationally.

ultimate frisbee
Image: Bruce Huynh Photography

Just last month Sydney's Colony took out the silver medal in the World Ultimate Club Championships in the U.S.

"To me that's very important in terms of their values and their respect and the self refereeing aspects of it," Phillips says of youth engagement with the sport.

"The earlier people can be learning those skills, the better I think in all their aspects of their life outside of sport as well."

Australian Flying Disc Association chief executive Simon Wood threw his support behind the league's inaugural season, praising the gender equality at the centre of the competition structure.

“It has been designed by passionate and talented Australian Ultimate community members to promote Ultimate to a broader audience throughout Australia,” Wood said.

ultimate frisbee
Source: Getty Images

The Melbourne Flames and Sydney Suns will play at Ron Barassi Snr Park in Melbourne at 7pm on Saturday.

Tickets are available for pre purchase on the AUL website where you can also  view the matches via live stream.

Contact the author at vgerova@networkten.com.au

Featured Image:  Bruce Huynh Photography