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An ultimate training camp at night

Some attendees learn how to do the forehand throw. Ivan Saldajeno
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASIG--It was a busy Monday night inside the Meralco Fitness Center.

At the basketball gym, there was Gilas Pilipinas having its weekly practice ahead of the FIBA Olympic Qualifiying Tournament.

But just outside the hardwood, a different sports training was ongoing, only that the players involved are not pros but people new to the game.

Every Monday, people who want to learn the game of ultimate go to the Meralco Gym to attend the "beginner's night", more well known as the PUA Beg Nite, a weekly crash course organized by the Philippine Flying Disc Association, which is then known by its more popular name Philippine Ultimate Association.

"Ang main goal namin here is to teach ultimate, yung kahit zero knowledge, yung grassroots talaga. So from zero knowledge, matututo sila ng enough understanding to play the game, para at the end of the evening, pickup na," said Towie Vasquez, the head organizer of the weekly training.

On how he and the rest of the teaching team divide the time for Beg Nite, which usually starts at 8 p.m. and ends by 10 p.m., Vasquez said, "The first hour is devoted for teaching them. We further divide it into two. Yung isang side, nagtuturo sa mga zero knowledge ng fundamentals--throwing the backhand, forehand, and catching. The rest, may drills na sila. Right after the drills, we make them play a pickup game."

Vasquez then revealed about the Beg Nite's humble beginnings and how they decided to call the Meralco Gym home.

"When we started it, we did our teaching every Wednesday. But we had to transfer it from San Lorenzo Village in Makati here in Ortigas. We saw Ortigas as a perfect spot kasi madali lang puntahan at saka nasa gitna sya [ng Metro Manila] as opposed to Makati. Unang-una, matrapik sa Makati. We have a very good relationship with Meralco. They've really been nice to us," he bared.

Vasquez then expressed hope that they can lure the frequent attendees of the Gilas practices to their Beg Nite.

"Letting them see this is a way for us to advertise it more na, 'Hey! It's happening,'" he said.

Now that PFDA is a national sports association after getting an accreditation with the Philippine Sports Commission and the World Flying Disc Federation, Vasquez believes the next Derek Ramsey and Reema Chanco, the stars of the national ultimate team, can come from the Beg Nite students, even revealing that some of the big names in the club and school-level competitions started at Beg Nite.

"The future is now. [Ultimate] has grown exponentially. The amount of talent blew us away. We've had a lot of players who began here, and they are shining na. Nakakatuwa siya, kasi naalala ko pa nung first time na natuto sila, then all of a sudden, magaling na sila. It's a good feeling," Coach Towie said in particular.

For more about the PUA Beg Nite, you can check out its official Facebook group page.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno