What does UKU do?
UK Ultimate is the National Governing Body for Ultimate. The organisation is responsible for the competitions, national teams, governance, administration and development of the sport in the UK. On this page we've tried to highlight most of our major areas of work. We also included a page with a little history for context on how we got here.
Whilst the number of schools competing at UKU competitions every year has not grown as quickly as we would like, there is no doubt that recognition and participation in ultimate has grown enormously at school level in the last 10 years.
Recruiting hundreds of new players to our sport every year, University clubs are the beating heart of Ultimate in the UK.
Good quality coaching is fundamental to most of our other goals: engaging with schools, developing young players, growing the number of female players, successful national teams, and a strong focus on Spirit of the Game.
Safeguarding (click to read more)
As more clubs have started up around the country we have seen a rise in the number of clubs wanting to engage young players. Many of these clubs come to UK Ultimate with questions and some times worries about safeguarding so we created this club safeguarding pack. This pack is designed as a set of guidelines around safeguarding, to help clubs with common safeguarding questions when working with under-18s (u18s) such as:
How can our club provide opportunities for u18 and youth players?
Can we take photos and videos?
When should we ask for consent and how do we do this?
Is using social media ok?
Do adults (anyone over 18) need safeguarding?
What should we do to support our coaches as well as our players?
What do we do if a safeguarding issue arises?
Where can we go for further support?
Follow this link to download the pack https://www.ukultimate.com/safeguarding.
As well as safeguarding pack, we have also created the UK Ultimate safeguarding committee. They can be contacted by emailing email@example.com. They are happy to support with any questions on safeguarding.
The size of the GB programme varies a little from year to year, but in 2019, we coordinated 19 GB teams competing at European or World Championships in multiple age-groups on grass and beach. WFDF & EUF events planned for 2021 suggest we could be managing a similar number next year.
In 2018 UKU appointed Ali Tincknell to the board as our first Performance Director, and updated the structure of the GB Committee. All of the teams are managed and coached by volunteers and financed by the players, but there is still a great deal to do across so many squads. Several members of staff are closely involved; most notably Ruth Flight, part-time Programme Manager for the four youth squads (U20 & U17), and Chris Bamford, UKU Administrator, who spends over 20% of his time on work for GB squads.
Playing for GB is expensive. We would love to fix that problem, but with a total annual turnover of over £300k in a year like 2019, we have a long way to go.
Results remain strong. In 2019, five of the teams won their division, with another four winning silver or bronze, and three of the teams winning Spirit. Overall, GB is 3rd in WFDF’s World Ultimate Rankings.
Events & Competition in the UK
In a normal year, we directly manage approx 60 tournaments around the UK. At our busiest periods of the university indoor season there can be 8 regional tournaments happening in parallel on the same weekend. Every summer, our largest club event, Nottingham Windfarm, usually brings together 80-90 teams and over 1500 players.
In 2018-19 we continued work to expand what was The Tour into a more accessible UKU Ranking Series with more, smaller events spread around the country. It was a very rough calculation, but we estimated that the changes resulted in a really significant reduction in the total number of miles (maybe as much as 50%) travelled by Ultimate players attending ranking events.
UKU National Championships
Every year, UK Ultimate coordinates and delivers regional and national competitions across the following 26 divisions (click for details).
Club National Championships
Outdoors: Women's, Mixed, Open
Indoors: Women's, Mixed and Open
Beach: Women's, Mixed and Open
University National Championships
University Outdoors: Women's, Mixed and Open (*)
University Indoors: Women's, Mixed and Open (*)
(*) University Women's & Men's divisions are also part of the BUCS programme
School/Club Junior Indoors: Open (U20, U17, U14) and Women's (U20, U17, U14)
School/Club Junior Outdoors: Open (U20, U17, U14), Mixed (U20, U17)
Club Outdoors Masters-Open
Hosting International Events and the WUCC 2022 bid
In 2015-16 UKU established itself as a reliable partner for WFDF delivering successful World Championships in both years. In perhaps the highlight of the entire 3-year project, WUGC Finals Day saw approx. 7000 people at Allianz Park, London to see the finals in all three divisions. Did you see the highlights video from finals day? There's plenty more footage from the week-long event online.
International events always create a buzz. In addition to the potential to raise extra funds to invest in the future, the events create a focal point for the community, hooking a new generation of volunteers and organisers and provide an opportunity to showcase Ultimate to people and organisations that don't know about the sport. Running 2009-xEUCF enabled UKU to employ it's first full-time member of staff; 2015-WU23 gave us the confidence to employ a full-time event coordinator, and 2016 WUGC provided the funds for a 2-year School Development role.
In early 2020 we submitted a bid to host WFDF 2022 World Ultimate Club Championships in partnership with the University of Nottingham. A great deal has changed since we submitted the bid of course, and for the time being our discussions with WFDF have paused, but we're really looking forward to the opportunity to bring the very best players in the world back to the UK if we can secure the event.
Governance, Recognition and legitimacy
The process of gaining legitimacy is pretty slow, but there's no doubt we have made great progress in the last few years. The image here is a great example of this process at work, with a women's ultimate game featured on the front cover of an important annual survey about university sport. Twenty years ago, Ultimate was still something of a curiosity for university sport. Now it is a well-established sport within the university sector, with healthy numbers and a growing women's division in particular. Much of that progress has been driven by tireless university club committees recruiting and teaching players every year; but it has undoubtedly been helped by continuous support from full-time staff and our long-term work and partnership with BUCS.
Meanwhile, at a school level, the Youth Sport Trust has wholeheartedly absorbed ideas of self-refereeing and spirit of the game feedback, encouraging their network to experiment with variations of our spirit scoring approach across other sports. The work to develop a relationship with The Youth Sport Trust, building confidence in our organisation and an understanding for the potential benefits of Ultimate has understandably taken time, but it will pay off in the long term.
In 2016, UK Ultimate was formally recognised as the National Governing Body for the UK and home nations. To date, the benefits remain mostly indirect; for example, Sport England certainly supported our application to the School Games. Either way, this is an important step in gradual integration of our sport into the wider community because it legitimises both the sport and UKU in the eyes of other organisations, e.g. as part of a city's assessment of their long-term needs for sports field provision, as happened earlier this year.
We play our part in the World Flying Disc Federation and the European Ultimate Federation, supporting work on events, rules, spirit of the game, governance and more.
As a UK business we obviously have important governance commitments to fulfil, and this includes responding to changes in legislation such as pension auto-enrolment and GDPR. In 2020 we were randomly selected for an HMRC Compliance check, which we have now completed successfully.
Like most sports in the UK, Ultimate relies substantially on volunteers. UK Ultimate has a number of active committees in addition to the board of directors, who are primarily made up of volunteers with some structure and support provided by UKU staff members. Additionally we are all reliant on the huge number of individuals who volunteer their time to help run their own teams and clubs. It is these people who actively ensure that there are clubs for people to practice and play with, that university clubs continue to recruit new players year in year out and create the community that we all love being part of. One of UK Ultimate's most important roles is to try to support people who want to give their time, energy and skills to the sport.
If that's you (and we know there are lots of you out there) - thank you!