Yesterday was the first weekend of the Republic of Korea Ultimate (ROK-U) 2015 Fall season. After the great time Kris and I had in Seoul Spring League, we felt that we should experience the major league for Ultimate in Korea. Even before we came to Korea, ROK-U was something that drew us to the country. As ROK-U is a national league, game days (or weekends) are held in cities across the country. The idea that we could travel around Korea playing Ultimate was very appealing, and we eagerly awaited the first game day. It did not disappoint.
We arrived, managed to find our captain and several of the other players from our team, whose name is the Cheon-won. For those outside Korea, cheon-won is the Korean word for 1000 won, the Korean currency. It is roughly equivalent to R10 in South Africa, or $1 in the United States. Here is a picture of a Cheon-won note:
These blue notes with the visage of a venerated elderly Korean general are the cancer of the wallets of those in Korea. They seem to multiply at incomprehensible rates, devouring all of the other, more valuable notes in the process.
Having a name that is drawn from a banknote inevitably leads to money being a central theme in the team. All of the team’s pre-and-during-game chants revolved around money. Some more notable of these included “CASH MONEY!” and the old faithful “MAKE IT RAIN!”. While these may not be the most creative use of the money trope, we still have all season to elaborate and branch out from these old staples.
The frivolity of our chants hints at arguably my favourite thing about our team – the spirit. We didn’t win a single game all day. We never scored more than three points in an entire game. But we never stopped fighting. We never stopped having fun. And that is more important to me than winning will ever be. I was wearing in new cleats that I had been gifted for my birthday by my aunt, and from the end of the first game, my feet were aching. I was having so much fun, I didn’t care.
Nothing exemplifies the spirit of our team more than the manner by which we dole out our MVP award to the standout player of the enemy team. Members of our team sign a cheon-won note. We then announce the player lucky enough to receive the award. That person then has to retrieve their enviable prize from the lower back, nay, the upper butt crevice of our inimitable captain. This could be a thing of horror and humiliation. With us, it is just something done for a laugh to be had by all after a hard game of Frisbee. And everyone laughs, even the person lucky enough to rescue the venerable Korean general from his sweaty prison.
We have many weekends left in the league to win games. I am glad that we started having fun before the first minute of the first game.