Not Club Mixed Indoor Regionals (NCXIR) presents itself as Scotland’s premium indoor ultimate event. After a successful second year running, we caught up with organisers Matt Tomlinson and Calum Easton, who gave us the lowdown about the event, their exciting future plans, and a bit of friendly rivalry…
Sell NCXIR to us.
Calum: NCXIR is a one day, strict-mixed indoor tournament, on the largest indoor 3G pitch in Europe. Obviously the facilities at Oriam are a huge draw for people, but on top of that, our 2 division format helps to ensure that all games are as competitive as possible, and with at least six 30 minute games for each team, plenty of pitch time is guaranteed. To put it simply, it was our aim from the outset to deliver the best indoor tournament in the UK, and we feel we weren’t far off this.
If I was trying to sell it to someone who had never heard of it I would tell them NCXIR is the best 5-a-side mixed indoor tournament they’ll play in, with lots of high quality, competitive games, in world class facilities.
Matt: We started NCXIR with the intention of creating the best mixed indoor experience in the UK. Gender equality is a very important topic to both Cal and I and it has been embraced in a big way in the North (Smog, Black Eagles and GUX). We believe that mixed gender Ultimate is the best way in which the sport will gain wider recognition.
Every year we are looking for ways to improve. In 2018 we provided a table tennis table, a merchandise stall from the Ultimate clothing provider, BE Ultimate in Canada, a dedicated 2 man filming crew and a pitch side flat screen showing the 6 Nations rugby.
Tell us about the organisation process.
Calum: This year was very different to last year, as all the groundwork had been done. We used a lot of material from last year, but for us, it was all about what we could add to it this year to make it better. We both put a huge amount of hours into developing the tournament; fighting with 1.2km of pitch lines to make 6 individual pitches, or working to secure sponsorship for example. There’s so much that goes into planning and running a tournament that people don’t think about or realise unless they’re involved in it. We were very thorough in our planning though. We had a full timeline and action plan written up before we made anything public, so it was pretty straightforward after that.
Matt: Between myself and Calum, we have 16 years playing experience and have attended in excess of 100 tournaments, so we like to think we know what makes a good event. We shared the same idea of what the tournament should look like, but we each have different skills, which allowed the division of labour based on our strengths. I am the ideas man, whilst Calum is the trouble shooter, shooting down most of my more impractical ideas…
Calum: Yeah, the biggest hurdle was undoubtedly Matt. Whilst we were trying to develop the tournament as an event with things like showing the rugby, the ping-pong etc, some of the things he suggested were just outrageous. You can all thank me for not being involved in a ‘sideline mud-wrestling match’.
What advice would you give to someone directing a tournament for the first time?
Calum: Matt and I have always stuck to a motto of “know what we want to deliver and stick to it”, and that’s what I would say to anyone. For example, we could’ve increased the number of teams in the tournament (we had a waiting list), but that would’ve meant compromising on the length of games, which is something we weren’t willing to do.
That, and, don’t be afraid to ask for help. We couldn’t have delivered what we did without the volunteers who helped with the set-up, filming, manning the TD stall etc, or BE Ultimate for their sponsorship.
Matt: It’s important to remember that the priority is the Frisbee. That’s why everyone is there. The extras help, but knowing your demographic is paramount – the event needs to appeal to them.
How difficult was the organisation process last year, when the event was running for the first time?
Matt: The first year is always the hardest, getting things off the ground takes so much more effort. The difficulty of pushing into a crowded market is something we were aware of but we were confident that what we were offering was a high end product that fulfilled a niche and would be well received. It went very smoothly last year and we were helped out by some fantastic volunteers. If anything, this year was more nerve-racking because we wanted to make it bigger and better.
Calum: To be honest, it could’ve been a lot worse. It was slightly earlier than we would’ve liked. Being at the start of January meant we were missing a few Uni teams, and we were concerned we wouldn’t get the numbers for it, but it all worked out, and we took that on board for this year.
The fact I work at Oriam was, and still is, a big advantage. Without my knowledge of the facility, and relationship with staff, delivering NCXIR to the standard we have over the past 2 years would’ve been much harder.
And how do you feel the event went this year? Is there anything you would do differently?
Matt: We think it went great, but there is always room for improvement and we are already discussing what next year will look like.
Calum: On the whole, we’re extremely happy with how it went. All the teams turned up and no one died; success. If we do it again, we’ll probably extend our facility booking as some games ran over and the schedule times went a bit out the window but that happens at most tournaments.
Next time, I would emphasise reading the Player Pack more strongly. A lot of people turned up not knowing there was the chance to buy merch from the BE stall, or that there was a party. More for their benefit than ours, but I just want to make sure they get the most out of the event. We were also hoping to have a drone to film some of it, but we couldn’t quite make it happen. Maybe next year…
Any personal highlights from the day itself?
Calum: I was very happy that we had the whole place set-up for people arriving, as you just don’t see that at other tournaments. You’ve always got people running around still setting pitches up as the hooter goes for the first game.
Matt: That was my highlight – 09:30am on Saturday morning, watching everyone walk in, with the tournament set up and everything looking perfect. Plus hearing people talk excitedly in the lead up to the day, and the presentations at the end handing out the trophies. There’s so many best parts, but just seeing that all our hard work has paid off tops it.
Calum: Also, a lot of people commented on how impressed they were with the whole thing, which was nice. It was just great to look around at people generally having a great time and see that all the effort we’d put in was worthwhile.
Matt: And probably the final whistle, knowing it was over and we could go to the pub and relax.
Matt, your team took home the gold medal at the end of the day. Was the goal of winning the tournament something that was important to either/both of you?
Matt: Not at all, I was completely shocked. I said before the weekend that any one of the top 10 teams could have won the event. In our group games we narrowly topped the group with a sudden death win over Chinchillas. This shows how competitive the entire division was.
Calum: I’m not going to lie, I like to win and it would’ve been nice to have won NCXIR this year but that’s not why we ran it. The goal was always to deliver a high quality tournament, and I feel we did that. I don’t mind that I didn’t win it, I’m just annoyed that Matt did. (It’s all good though, Black Eagles > Glasgow).
Matt: We have now each won once, so I think in 2019 we should keep our focus on the running of the competition, unless some big names come over from Europe…
NCXIR is obviously a new event, this being only its second year running. What were your motivations behind adding it to the already fairly busy ultimate calendar?
Matt: We have both been playing since 2008 and in that time there have been very few competitive mixed club events, and none held at such a fantastic facility. We believed that there was a niche for a competitive, mixed club event and, with worlds on the horizon, we were able to create a name for ourselves.
Calum: The biggest motivation for us was that we wanted to increase the number of opportunities to play high quality ultimate in the UK, and ensure that players get their money’s worth. Yes, the ultimate calendar is increasingly busy, but our general feeling is that some of these tournaments are now sub-par, refusing to adapt and move with the times, and aren’t interested in delivering quality. It’s probably down to the growth of the sport, increase in the number of players, and tournaments trying to accommodate this, but teams aren’t getting the same experiences they were a few years ago. Despite what some people were saying last year, spending a day bagel-ing teams or being bagel-ed is no fun for anyone. We wanted to show people that it’s really not that hard to deliver something better, and that if other tournaments aren’t willing to change then they are at risk of being left further behind.
What are your hopes and goals for the event in the future?
Calum: In simple terms, we want to make it NCXIR bigger and better. I don’t want to give too much away, but we are looking at making it a 2 day event next year if we can, in the hopes that we’d be able to attract a few more English teams, and maybe even some from Europe. If we can only manage one day, we still have a number of ideas we’d look to introduce that we weren’t able to this year.
We invested a lot of money into the event itself with a view to running it again in the future, so it would be a shame not to continue it. We worked hard to ensure games were filmed and plenty of pictures were taken on the day. (Huge shout outs to Finlay Watson, Danny Strasser, Louise Webster and Andrew Hunter). That material will make it much easier to promote the event going forward, and hopefully boost our publicity.
Matt: Next year is to be bigger, 2 days, a big party, a name change and a huge, permanent trophy for teams to compete for. I’m talking Champions league big!
Don’t just take it from them, here is the official tournament video:
We would like to thank BE Ultimate for all the efforts they put into this tournament. Go check out their web page: www.beultimate.com