There has been debate recently about whether the UK could improve its international performance by adopting a similar system to the USA. In the USA, the National Champions are chosen to represent the USA at the next international competition – whereas traditionally in the UK, the UKU appoint managers for GB Open, who then hold trials and select the best players from around the country, training one or two weekends per month in the run-up to the next nations tournament.
The benefits of both systems, and whether the UK should follow the USA, has debated recently in a series of well-timed articles on “Club or Country“, over at The ShowGame.
Back in October, the UKU announced Justin Foord and Marc Guilbert (both Clapham captains) would be running GB Open, and stated: “We cannot emphasise enough that we require the managers to run truly Great Britain teams that are absolutely not just an extension of club teams.” In their latest release of information, it’s clear the tie between Clapham and GB is very tight;
“GB Open practices will be in London, alongside Clapham Ultimate”
“GB Open tactics, structures and plays will be identical to those of CU”
“Frequency of training will depend on the time of the season but are likely to peak at 2-3 team trainings per week in the lead up to WUGC 2016”
Although the UKU go to efforts to assure us “this is not a club based national team“, there are undeniably stronger links than ever before between Clapham and GB Open – how likely is it that a player from Manchester, Devon, Bristol, Scotland, or Leeds will be able to attend regular weeknight trainings in central London? Have the UKU gone back on what they have said previously, or are they just allowing what is necessary for GB Open to reach the next level? What are the wider implications for the UK Ultimate community as a whole?
Have your say below!
GB Open 2015-2016
UKU has granted the GB Open GM post to Justin Foord on a bid based in London with close ties to Clapham Ultimate.
The details of this bid are very important as they explain that this bid, while structurally different, is not so dissimilar in essence to those of GB Open of previous cycles. For the skeptics, please realise this is not a club based national team. To make sure this is understood, we will explain why and how this GB Open cycle presents as many opportunities for growth as before.
It is important for those associated with the 2015-2016 GB Open cycle that it is recognized that this bid was put together in accordance with the UKU’s aim to elevate the level of elite ultimate in GB.
The GM, Justin Foord, will have overriding decision over all aspects of the GB Open cycle. An advisor to the GM has been appointed (Marc Guilbert) due to his breadth of experience with leadership roles within Clapham Ultimate and GB Open. The aim of the advisor will be to aid the GM whenever possible.
On field coaching will be done by captains and Junta members who will be given specific on-field, off-field and/or functional responsibilities by the GM. Coaching appointments will be made according to players on field strength and expertise. No non-playing coach has been appointed at this time.
As per all previous cycles, all UKU players will be invited to tryout for the GB Open squad.
Trialists will be invited to submit an application consisting of writing a concise summary of their candidacy to the GB Open selection committee (who will be appointed by the GM).
As learned in the 2011-2012 GB cycle, the GB Open selection committee will be encouraged to keep an open mind on young or unknown players. A pre-selection process will identify which players are invited to trials.
GB Open Trials will be held in London in early 2015 to give everyone a chance to showcase their on-field skills and abilities and for the selection committee to complete a detailed appraisal.
Trials will run in 2 phases.
Full Weekend: 28th Feb & 1st March
After this trial weekend, there will an initial cut followed by 4 further trial dates:
Sunday 22nd March
Sunday 29th March
Sunday 12th April
Sunday 19th April
The GB Open squad will then be announced as soon as possible after the trial period has finished.
This section is where this bid differs most from previous GB Open cycles.
GB Open wants to compete with the best teams in the world. To do so, it is widely recognized that training frequency of the squad has to increase from previous cycles.
In order to provide a platform for all players to train more, GB Open practices will be in London, alongside Clapham Ultimate. Here, all GB Open squad members will have an open invitation to train at all Clapham Ultimate practices. Given this invitation, Clapham Ultimate will not be looking to recruit those players into the club.
Since GB Open tactics, structures and plays will be identical to those of CU, Clapham Ultimate practices will provide every GB Open player a chance to learn and reinforce the principles of the GB Open team.
Since practices will be based in London, some consideration can be placed in the concept of helping subsidize travel costs for those travelling from far. The expectation is that any funds raised by GB Open will be used to support those with financial challenges irrespective of location. The outcome of this consideration will be subject to review by the GB Oversight Committee. We do not expect GB players to
incur any accommodation costs in attending training.
Competitiveness of training will be fuelled and every player will be offered a bigger network for feedback since existing CU players will be in a great position to help players integrate into the systems. Thus, GB Open squad members who aren’t Clapham Ultimate players will benefit from the free exchange of experience, knowledge and systems.
Frequency of training will depend on the time of the season but are likely to peak at 2-3 team trainings per week in the lead up to WUGC 2016. Recognizing that players might have conflicting club commitments, provisions will be made for those with such commitments and/or for those with travelling constraints. That said, every GB Open squad member will be expected to be very clear on their expected practice attendance.
This proposal takes advantage of the existing world class Ultimate programme within Clapham Ultimate to challenge and elevate every GB Open squad member.
Every GB Open squad member will benefit from the successful Clapham Ultimate structure, tactics, systems and principles and allow them bring back this experience to their respective club teams. This sharing of experience and information will hopefully promote further developments to other club teams and all levels of Ultimate in the UK.
Update: UKU have posted a new statement in response to discussion on this topic