It is hard to believe that the ubiquitous ‘flying disc’ of the sport variety commonly referred to as frisbee could garner athletic delight as a competitive sport. But, backing this game is a young Bengaluru-based student engineer, Stania Deborah Peris, member of the Indian Ultimate Frisbee Team and represents India in this format at the national and international levels. Stania is also a trained athlete and plays throwball and handball with equal enthusiasm. She shares her balancing act between sports and her dream of bringing in a scientific approach to nutrition to aid fitness goals for all

“Main responsibility comes after winning. Motivate women to do whatever they love, says Stania Deborah Peris, a Young Achiever awardee in the field of sports at the 2018 Karnataka Women Achievers Awards. She is an engineer and team member of Indian Ultimate Frisbee Team. She is also the winner of the ‘Junior Scientist of Chickmagalur District (Karnataka)’ award for the project “Role of Stevia in Human Life” in 2008 and has presented several academic papers in her role as a Chemical Engineer.

She found her mettle as a team member of the Indian Ultimate Frisbee U24 Team that participated in the World U24 Ultimate Championships held at Perth, Australia in January 2018 and as part of the University Handball Team that participated in the ‘All India South Zone Handball Tournament’ in 2014. She captained the BMS College of Engineering handball team that won gold in the Bengaluru zone’s Visvesvaraya Technical University (VTU) handball tournament, in the year 2015-16 and silver in the VTU inter zones (State level) handball tournament during the same year.

She also participated in several all India level - Ultimate Frisbee tournaments at Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Mysore, Mumbai, Surat and Chennai. A field athlete, she has well represented herself in district and various State and National level athletics meets between 2005-2011. While her achiever’s list is endless, it sure portrays her versatility as a scientist, dancer and a sports enthusiast.

The ultimate sportsperson

Way of Life

For Stania, sports was never an option but the norm in her family. Her athlete parents Stanly George Peris and Diana Peris ingrained discipline and a sporting ‘grain’ in her, right from her early years. From the age of six, she has been ably trained by her parents; her father was a State level athlete and sprinter from Mangalore. From age 10 till date, she has been participating in various tournaments, be it sprinting or her chosen fields frisbee, handball and throwball.

“I mainly played throwball and handball apart from field athletics. I took to playing frisbee sometime in 2016, when a senior in college asked me if I would be interested in joining the team. After one session, I felt the endorphins pumping.” Since then she has ‘upped’ her levels through her team efforts.

She believes in the spirit of frisbee as a sport and as a leveler to cut any form of gender biases in sports and wishes that more people, especially in her home state and Bengaluru engage with this sport. “It’s a mixed-gender sport that can also be played as only men or only women teams. But, India focuses on mixed gender team games. In the 7-member mix team format, we could have three girls and four boys or vice versa. It is also a non-contact sport.” Explaining that being a self-referred game, it puts the onus on each team member to play the game fairly on both sides.

“This game officially does not have referees but, many certified game observers and advisers. Earlier, we used to have all India tournaments but now we have sectional/regional and national games. Except for certain top-level games, it is primarily a self-referred sport. It is not very popular yet in India but catching up. In Bengaluru we have about 10-15 club teams.”

“We have a set of rules that the game follows and therefore players ideally needs to gain accreditation through two levels of examinations to ensure that you know all the rules as stipulated by the World Flying Disc Federation. These are online tests to enable standard and advanced credentials,” she said

“It (frisbee play) is also an exercise which teaches you to be affable. So, I see myself increasing more awareness about the sport. Except for certain top-level games, it is primarily a self referred sport. It is not very popular yet in India but catching up. In Bengaluru we have about 10-15 club teams”

Building agility and endurance through frisbee

Balancing culture and sport

Frisbee Fit

“Generally, duration of the games (frisbee) are of 75 to 100 mins. You need speed, agility, quickness and endurance to becoming an effective player. So, merely knowing the game and throws is not enough. It needs a lot of work in the background especially during the run-up to competitive tournament,” said Stania.

She wishes that more people took up the sport because she feels that playing (any sport) is equally important for both girls and boys. “It is also an exercise which teaches you to be affable. So, I see myself increasing more awareness about the sport.”

On her diet regime, “I have been in hostels for the past eight years and I do not get to pick my food. Since our body needs everything, I supplement my diet with fruits and vitamins, keeping in mind the ill effects of genetically modified or processed food.”

Fit, Fitter and Fittest

“It is left to every single person to shape your life. You cannot be busy 24/7. So, take care in small steps, if possible work and do a little bit of walking around, no matter how busy you might be,” said Stania. She said it is important to condition your body when one is in their prime age, especially youngsters. “How you treat your body now will justify its state in the coming years. I try to motivate my friends too and take them with me to the grounds. You have to feel good about yourself.”

Despite her physical challenges of combating injuries as is common to most professional sportspersons, she said that it is equally important to keep oneself self-motivated.

“I cannot take losses peacefully. When I am not good enough, I am very hard on myself and keep upping my benchmarks. But, I listen my parents who say, “Practice hard but, stay calm. wining is secondary; give it your best.”

By Sangeeta Ghosh Dastidar