U-Ball (Ubuntu Ball)
Youth Gathering participants in Atlanta will remember U-ball, interactive volleyball and dodgeball sponsored by ELCA World Hunger and Lutheran World Relief. Young people played with "handicaps" - both too many material goods and too few (plus other things that make it hard for people who are poor to escape poverty). See below for instructions on how to run a U-Ball session at youth "lockdowns" or other activities in which youth can learn about hunger and poverty while having fun at the same time.
Photos from the 2003 Youth Gathering in Atlanta (taken by Brenda Meier, Lutheran World Relief)
Click to enlarge photos
Question: Why are there arrows pictured on the court?
Answer: During the first week of the Gathering, volleyball was played using the props and a standard player rotation pattern. Once the game switched to dodgeball, it seemed that dodgeball allowed for a faster-paced and more energetic activity than volleyball, and more players had to be involved and keep on the move. Don't worry about having arrows in your game, unless you attempt the volleyball version and want to establish a clear rotation pattern.
U-Ball instructions are pasted below. If you would like a printer-friendly version of instructions (complete with court diagram), choose one of the following two options for downloading and/or printing: [PDF file] [Microsoft Word]
PROPS AND THEIR MEANING
– Symbolic of over one billion people who do not have access to clean, sanitary water and/or who have to walk miles to retrieve water.
Coffee sacks – Represents unfair coffee prices for small-scale farmers, who cannot sustain a livelihood for themselves or their families. Fair trade provides them with a living wage.
Baby dolls – Reminds us of the many babies and children who have been orphaned by AIDS.
Goggles (or inner tubes) – Symbolic of the ways that people with wealth and power let materials and “stuff” weigh them down or blind them to the needs of others.
T-shirts – (put only one arm through an arm hole) – Represents those who have lost a limb to a landmine or because of lack of access to medicine or medical care. Every 17 seconds someone steps on a landmine – many are children.
PLAYING THE GAME
U-Ball pits two ball-throwing teams, separated by a center line, against each other. The object of the game is to get all of your opponents “out” of the game by:
1) Hitting them with a ball you throw.
2) Catching a ball they throw at you while trying to get you out.
When someone is “out” of the game, they leave the main playing area and join other “out” teammates on the other side of their opponent’s team, also separated by a line (like the end line on a volleyball court). While “out,” players act as a backstop to catch balls thrown by their teammates that go through their opponents’ side. “Out” people also can throw at their opponents to get their opponents “out.” Once you are “out” you stay out, so you can’t come back in when you hit someone from your “out” position.
The game ends when the last person on one side is hit or throws a ball that is caught.
Throw balls that are difficult to catch.
Throw low (also avoids hitting people in the face).
While your opponent tries to stay as far away from you as they can when you have the ball, they get very close to your teammates behind them. By throwing the ball just over your opponent’s head and into your teammate’s hands, they can quickly catch and throw the ball at your retreating opponent.
If you catch a thrown ball from an opponent who already is “out,” you get to choose which one of their active players to send “out” of the game. This entices people to take chances by catching the ball, and equalizes the game by giving everyone a chance to get their opponent’s best player out, without having to catch his/her ball or hitting them. (i.e. you can catch their weakest player’s thrown ball and make their strongest player leave).
Thrown balls only count on the fly – bounces don’t count for hitting people or for catching the ball.
A ball that hits your teammate and flies into the air and is caught preserves the person who was hit – unless you want to negate this rule – but it fosters a sense of teamwork.
Sometimes balls hit two people…again, you can state that both will be out (for speeding up the game) or that only the first person hit is out.
You can reach over the line to get a loose ball, but you can’t step over it.
[Note: Instructions prepared by Jeff Rasmussen, Lutheran World Relief.]