The interest in the WCBU2017 has been overwhelming! Almost 200 teams from 44 federations have shown interest in participating. This could result in 3,500 players and support staff coming to Royan (France) next year.
To put this into perspective, previous BULA and WFDF beach ultimate championships (WCB2011, ECBU2013, and WCBU2015) had just over 70 teams and 1,000 players. The WCBU2017 organization had planned for an event that would not exceed 2,000 players, which seemed reasonable at the time.
Until a few days before the Sept 15 Expression of Interest (EoI) deadline there were less than 100 teams that had shown interest. That number almost doubled when the deadline hit a few days later. This forced the organization to make some tough decisions.
An emergency meeting was held to decide how to deal with this remarkable interest. It was agreed that a subjective system, where the organization decides who is in or out, would be unacceptable. Decisions had to be made based on facts/data.
In the EoI the national federations had indicated the chances of teams participating in the various divisions. Based on those numbers, if bids were offered to teams that were 75%+ chance of coming, there was a significant drop in the number of players but the capacity and safety limit would still be exceeded. To further curb participation, without limiting countries or divisions, another tough decision was made: cap the number of players per team.
As BULA and WFDF continue to promote full gender equality it was decided to limit teams at an even number, i.e. 14 players, instead of 15 (3 lines of 5 players) where teams in the mixed division would be forced to favor one gender over another. This roster limitation will put more emphasis on the physical shape of the athletes but was not deemed irresponsible.
It is clear how big the sport has gotten but with success comes growing pains and sometimes tough decisions. Separating out the Masters divisions is becoming more and more a reality for the future. Until then, the WCBU2017 organization is dedicated to putting up a great event for as many people as possible: athletes, volunteers, partners, fans, and organizers. Stay tuned.