What is Korfball?
It’s a mixed team sport – men and women play on an equal basis – and it is best thought of as a cross between basketball and netball, or netball and basketball depending on how you look at it. “Korf” in Dutch means “Basket”. It started in the Netherlands at the start of the 20th Century, when Nico Broekhuysen, a teacher at a mixed Amsterdam school, adapted it from a game he had seen in southern Sweden in 1902.
It is the only international sport that must be played by equally mixed teams by definition. Teams have 8 players, 4 men and 4 women, 2 of each gender being in defence and 2 in attack at the start of a game. Other than being in attack/defence ‘divisions’, players have no fixed positions or roles.
Goals (or ‘korfs’, being Dutch for ‘basket’) are scored by getting a football-sized ball into a basket 3.5m high (about 11 1/2 ft). The game requires all round skills and team play as after two goals, scored by either team, defenders become attackers and attackers become defenders.
You can’t run with the ball, although you can gain ground more than netball allows. The use of space and movement away from your opponent is vital, which makes it fast-moving. Players need balance, acceleration, hand-eye co-ordination, and the ability to think ahead and move into space. As players continually change their roles, ‘stars’ (or goalscorers), tend to be eclipsed by team success.
Players may shoot from anywhere in the attacking zone, provided that they are not being “defended” by somebody of their own sex, that is the ‘defender’ must be within arm’s length of (and facing) the attacker, be between the attacker and the post, and be actively trying to block the path of the ball.
Korfball was demonstrated at the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp. It has since grown dramatically and is now played in over 60 countries world-wide, with European and World Championships held every four years.
The game is played indoors in the winter (around September-April) and outdoors in the summer. People of all skill levels can play, and its a great way to keep fit and meet people. Why not come and give korfball a go?