(Harbin is a city in the far north-east of China, basically an outer suburb of Siberia)
The word of Schtick has been passed on to the good people of Harbin with yet more variations and transmogrifications to cater for unexpected circumstances. with students having about 34 hours of classes each week, the only available time to play was in the evenings, which meant that the only place to play was in a large square (concrete base) which was either floodlit or (if they forgot to turn the lights on) dully illuminated by the neon lights in a neighbouring classroom building. Players were forced to contend with this darkness, snow, discs disappearing into drains, badminton games, uncontrollable young children, roller bladers (one of whom joined the game in his roller blades) and a constant supply of field intruders driving cars, riding bikes or just walking to class, dinner or other events.Regardless, the game flourished. On one evening, so many students came that we had to divide into three separate games. Particularly when the students were new to the game, the fervour was such that injuries were no barrier – in one game three players found themselves en route to a check up in hospital having put their body on the line in order to score (or block) that vital point. And yet, they all turned up the following week with even more eager players. Thankfully the more we played, the more skilled they became and injuries quickly became a rarity despite less than ideal conditions. The range of approaches that students experimented with varied from absolute caution to all out attack, hard running to a casual (and easily ignored in the chaos of a ten-a-side game) saunter, and of particular satisfaction was an improved throwing game as time went on. It was brilliant to see such a wide range of people joining in and cherishing the experience.It was sad to leave such an enthusiastic group behind, but they’ve got a bunch of frisbees and I hope they’ll keep the tradition alive. For me now it is time to take the game into the heart of China, to the city of Suzhou.