At the inaugural Asia-Oceania Team Disc Golf Championships held Dec 2023 in Chinese Taipei
By Jason Browne
Jason Browne tees off
I’ve always been a team sports kinda guy. Growing up in Perth in the 1980’s, my sporting endeavours followed the same well-worn path as so many boys before me: AFL football in the winter and cricket in the summer. I tried a season of little athletics once but it wasn’t for me. There’s something about the camaraderie that comes with team sports that I have generally gravitated to.
Once I got to the age where team sport opportunities meant keeping up with those much younger than me and the risk of injury became larger due to the physical nature of these sports, I started to look at other options in the sporting world. At age 40, I discovered disc golf. While it is mostly an individual sport, the amount of support and camaraderie that you receive from your card mates (and opponents) gives the sport the feeling you’re still playing in a team.
I would never have imagined that this “niche” sport would give me the opportunity to represent my country. And in the best scenario possible for me, it led to playing in the Australian Disc Golf Team.
There is something special about being a part of a team that are all working together to achieve a common goal. In local sports, players have their own agendas which don’t always align as a team. As the level of competition increases, stakes grow higher and the people involved share more common beliefs and goals.
Jason Browne and Sharon Costa compete in a doubles match against Thailand
A small team of nine players was assembled from all parts of Australia to compete at the first WFDF Asia-Oceania Teams Disc Golf Championships. Due to the last minute nature of the event organisation, the team was assembled rather quickly, from players with a range of experience and with little opportunity to familiarise ourselves with each other and hone our skills together. This presented a challenge to combine a group of people, some of whom had never met, into a cohesive unit ready to take on higher rated opposition from around the region. A small team of near-strangers in a foreign country coming together for the first time can easily feel disjointed – and for a group hastily assembled for an event, it can be easily forgotten that you are representing your country. Kudos to team captain Aaron Moreton, who took the time to instil a feeling of gravitas to the occasion and inject a sense of pride in the team and the jerseys we were wearing: this helped everyone to realise that we were part of something truly unique and special.
Aaron’s message was simple: the shirt we were wearing gave us the permission to play at the highest level possible. It was not a burden to carry, but instead it was an access key to unlocking each player’s potential.
As the tournament went on, this potential began to be unlocked in many players on the team: matching and beating higher ranked opponents through sound tactics, practised skills and steely determination. Team players realised the potential to take their individual and team play to a new level. Matches that, on paper, looked like an easy win to our opponents, became (at the very least) a tight tussle up until the last two holes, or an unexpected victory to the underdogs.
In the end, the Team came home with a hard fought bronze medal, but we came within two holes of featuring in the playoff for gold. While a little disappointed that we could not quite take that extra step up the podium, I think the near-strangers that met only two days before the start of the tournament can be well proud of their achievements.
Competing at this level with a highly motivated group of team mates is an addictive feeling. Once you experience it, you want to experience it again.
After the tournament was complete and we turned our attention to heading home, questions started being asked about how we could be a part of something like this again… when can we next get to feel that endorphin rush of elite team competition?
If anybody is on the fence about whether you want to try out to be a part of the Australian Disc Golf Team, don’t hesitate. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime that you will not regret and will leave you hungry for more.
Team Australia receive their Bronze medals