How do you create the best UK Hat tournament? – A Discussion with DUFFA

DUFFA Hat is known in the UK for being one of the most successful Hat tournaments, with applications increasing year on year and even an introduction of a lottery system to handle the volume of applications. There is no doubt competition to attend this famous tournament is high, but what makes DUFFA Hat so great? We have been speaking to organisers to try to get a sneak peek of this year’s surprises and find out exactly what goes into running such a successful Hat tournament!


History of DUFFA Hat – Why was it first created? What were the aims?

We started our super spirited Ultimate pick-up club, DUFFA with the focus on spirit and inclusiveness and thought this would translate pretty well to a tournament, and so the idea of DUFFA Hat emerged. We noticed that in the UK the focus on Ultimate (especially with tournaments) was on the top-level – Our view was (and is!) that there is so much more to the sport than just the elite.

At the time, we had an experienced TD in the group who wanted to try and make money from our first tournament. Our vision was actually to do the tournament as non-profit and spend as much as possible on making it great. That experienced hand then refused to help and uttered the now immortal line, “You can’t run a Hat tournament without me” – this, if it was needed before, provided the motivation to prove them wrong. Ten years later we’re still proving this wrong.


How is DUFFA Hat so successful year on year?

We had the right recipe for a Hat tournament:

* Be super inclusive to beginners (including those that have never touched a disc before)

* Try to be as mixed as possible.

* Ensure that the Spirit prize is better than all other prizes (I mean coming first is cool but winning spirit is much more DUFFA Hat cooler)

* To be non-profit (And ensure we make the tournament as amazing as can be)

* Every year to surprise people. The first year I booked a Brass Band to do the Sunday morning wake up and hadn’t even told most of the organising committee!

* To innovate and ensure Spirit is in everything we do (we have our own custom Spirit ratings score sheets!)



When DUFFA first started, the Ultimate scene in Manchester was in transition. Black Sheep had disappeared and there was only Chevron every level. More recently, we have slotted into the Pickup niche, leaving Black Sheep and Manchester Ultimate to cater for the training and competing side. We’re the consistent pick-up club, there twice a week, rain or shine – always ready to show a complete beginner how great Ultimate is and point them in the direction of our local clubs when, and if, they are ready and want to play competitive Ultimate. Some of our members have never played competitively and we believe there is a lot of scope for more DUFFA style pickup in the larger cities to help promote the “pyramid” of Ultimate! Plus, some of us are getting old and knackered and don’t have time to train and go away for weekends but still love to play when we can.


Top themes in the past – What were some of the favourites? Why? Any top costumes that stick out?

We love our attendees’ dedication to fancy dress – especially those that stretch the theme. It’s great to see the interpretation on the theme. During the Jungle theme, we had three separate cartoons of Umbongo, for Under the Sea we had several Jelly Fish (mostly made of Umbrellas and fairy lights!), a pregnant partner of an attendee painted her stomach as the Earth for “Out of this World”.



We’ve also had: An army of Minions, a WALL-E (and EVA who came separately), a Lollypop person (“When I Grow Up”), an entire “Big Top” on the Circus year and for “A Blast from the Past” had a Mummy in a coffin. The Ultimate community can really get creative.


This year is The Wild West–  We are excited to see what costumes emerge!

A full list of past themes can be seen here


What are the highlights of organising such a tournament?

One of the highlights of my job is ringing people in the final week before the tournament and offering them a space – Sometimes you hear the crushing disappointment when they’ve already promised their significant other to do something else, but mostly people we ring are excited to get in!

As I type there are various bits of crafts being finished, packing lists being written and the final set of lucky individuals being contacted from the waiting lists to replace last minute cancellations.


Any surprises in store for DUFFA Hat this year? – Especially being the 10th edition

Of course there are! But to find out what they are you have to attend!


(Sorry guys, we tried to get you a hint…)



How do you create the best UK Hat tournament? – A Discussion with DUFFA