Our first real stop in the north of Iraq is Dohuk. A good day's bike ride from the border lies this city, which is one of the larger ones in the country. Here we are allowed to stay with Benni, a Warmshower host with whom we had been in contact for some time. As he is from Germany himself, he was able to give us important information about the security situation and border crossing. He lives in a neighbourhood on the outskirts of the city and after a tiring drive on roads that are too big, we arrive at his place in the evening. First he shows us his house and we immediately notice the Frisbee discs hanging on the wall. Beni's (attention, the one with only one 'n') eyes light up, because during his studies he played Ultimate Frisbee in the club for two years. When asked about this, it turns out that the two not only have the name in common, but actually played for the same club, albeit in different years. How small the world is!
Benni, who is a keen cyclist himself (velospektive.net), works in northern Iraq as a development aid worker and has built up a sports ministry with Ultimate Frisbee. In the meantime, there are various teams in and around Dohuk that train regularly and even have their own league. We are really impressed and when he invites us to join the training the next day, we of course don't miss the opportunity. That evening it's the kids' turn, which gives Beni the opportunity to brush up on his somewhat rusty skills. Sara takes over the part of the photographer.
On the way home, we find out that Benni leads trainings six times a week and so we decide to stay two extra nights so that it doesn't stay with just one session. We use the days to plan our route more precisely, upload photos and write the blog. In the evenings we train. The highlight is always the second half of the training, when we play. And that's when the action really gets going. On the second evening, the adults play and afterwards you can see the tiredness on Beni's face. But it was going to get even more strenuous.
The end of our time in Duhok is the training with the Yesid youth. The Yesids are a religious minority in Iraq that we had not heard of before, but more about that in another blog! The teens are highly motivated and visibly happy about the visit. They have been playing Ultimate Frisbee here for one and a half years and the technique and understanding of the game are incredibly impressive. It is a real pleasure to share this passion with them and so the language difficulties fade into the background. At the end, selfies are taken and we say goodbye to this happy group. Even though Beni now feels every fibre of his body, it was definitely a highlight to be able to experience this. Thank you very much!