Invading Cairo: Bringing sport and community to Egypt
Over the past year, Alex Beaman ’14 invaded one of the largest cities in the world. A Mines alumnus with a degree in engineering physics, Beaman stormed Cairo armed with nothing but a 175-gram round, plastic disc, with the intention of bringing ultimate to the city.
Played by an estimated 7 million people around the world, ultimate—better known as ultimate Frisbee—is a unique, fast-paced sport that combines the flow of soccer with the aerial passing and catching of football. The object of the game is to score by catching a flying disc in the opposing team’s end zone. The player with the disc can pivot, but cannot run, which means teammates without the disc must sprint to get in an open position to advance the disc down the field. Ultimate also emphasizes fair play through the “Spirit of the Game,” a tradition of sportsmanship where players call their own fouls.
Beaman arrived in Cairo in September 2016, following his sister who moved there a few years earlier. He immediately started looking for the ultimate community. He had previously played as a Mines student and when he lived in Wisconsin, so, naturally, Beaman was excited to be a part of an international community. “I started playing ultimate my junior year of high school,” Beaman said. “My sister actually taught me how to throw a forehand.”
However, despite being a city of millions, there was only one established ultimate team in Cairo. Beaman and Daniel Amoun Louis, another ultimate player in Cairo, wanted more. They teamed up to form the Flying Disc Invasion (FDI). Their mission: invade Cairo with an exciting sport that encourages peace, friendship and healthy living.
“We got about 10 other people to join us half-heartedly,” Beaman said. “We did disc walks where we took discs to different parts of towns. There weren’t really open fields to play, so we had to either find a soccer field or throw on the street or sidewalk.”
Beaman and Louis established The Invasion Foundry to train players and coaches to develop a higher level of competition and generate interest in the community.
“The biggest challenge was getting people excited about ultimate,” Beaman said. “When we started the foundry, not many people were interested, because they just didn’t know what ultimate was. Slowly but surely we got to where we are today.”
The FDI now has a core team of six or seven organizers with more than 20 consistent volunteers and helpers.
“Now we are planning a beach ultimate tournament,” Beaman said. “So far, we have about 90 people signed up. There are some people from the U.S. and the U.K. signed up, and some people from Morocco just reached out, so there’s some international attention to this.”
Another major initiative of FDI and ultimate organizations around the world is supporting the development of women in the sport. “Gender equality is one of the selling points of ultimate for me,” Beaman said. “There’s this big cultural challenge but we really want to start a women’s team.” If successful, it would be the first all-women ultimate team in Egypt.
To help expand the invasion and boost these initiatives, the FDI is growing their web presence through Facebook, Instagram and their website. They use these platforms and their events to continue to emphasize the importance of an active lifestyle, friendship, peace and fair play.
“Before and after Frisbee, everyone is friends,” Beaman said. “It’s about having fun more than winning.”