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.
Supernova’s very own Harry Low recently visited Belgium reporting for the BBC on the Korfball World Championships and this century-old sport.
Korfball started in Holland 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 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 about 11.5 ft high. After two goals, scored by either team, defence becomes attack
and attack becomes defence.
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 40 countries world-wide, including: Armenia, Australia, Belgium, Britain,
Czech Republic, India, Indonesia, Japan, Portugal, Taiwan and the USA.
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 try it out?
The detailed rules of korfball are available from the EKA website.