What is Korfball, and why should I play?

The most common response when you say you play Korfball is: “what (the hell) is Korfball?”. In this article I am going to present a brief rundown of the sport and why you need to consider giving it a go.

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Photograph: Ian Meeks

Korfball as a sport is actually over a century old after being invented by schoolteacher Nico Broekhusijens at the start of the 1900s in the Netherlands. Korfball is a mixed-sex ball sport which has influences from basketball, netball, and handball. Not only is it one of the few sports which is played at university by men and women but it is also inclusive to trans students; everyone can compete together and against one another in a single competitive environment. At the time of its invention Korfball was looked down upon because it had men and women competing with each other, resulting in people purposefully ignoring the sport because of this fact. It is worth noting that some people even today disrespect the sport because of an underlying belief that men and women should not play in the same sporting environment. A belief which can be eroded with the increase in positive awareness of sports such as Korfball.

Korfball shares the same aim as in basketball and netball with teams competing to score as many goals into a basket (or korf) which are at either ends of the court. The basket in Korfball stands at 3.5m (12 feet) which is 2 feet higher than a basketball hoop, with no backboard either. Interesting note: the two baskets are not placed right at the end of the court, but brought further in, meaning the play can move all the way around the basket(s). This increases the number of strategies which could be implemented.

Teams in Korfball are made up of 8 players, 4 male and 4 female, which are then divided into two separate divisions of 2 male and 2 female players. The court of play is also divided in half, so at any one time one division is either attacking or defending the korf (basket). Once (any) two goals are scored in a match, the divisions for both teams switch ends; meaning that during a match one will have opportunities to both attack and defend. Unlike in netball there are no rigid set positions meaning one can run around as much (or as little) as they like which one of the main reasons that a match can be played a great pace.

Another departure from basketball is that players cannot dribble with the ball; but can take two steps with the ball if they catch it in the air. Which of course raises the importance of teams being able to move the ball around effectively with good passing. Consequently, the game can be very fluid, through the combination of player movement and quick passing, and ultimately really fun to play.

Due the relatively small size of the sport, there is a real close-knit community feel within the game meaning that most clubs are very welcoming and inclusive; Lancaster being no different of course. You can make new and long-lasting friendship with people from all over the UK (and beyond) if you play Korfball.

However, Korfball is one of the fastest growing sports in the UK. Partially evidenced by the fact that this year the National BUCS Competition has the largest number of entries in its history. Korfball combines competitiveness, fast-pace and fun, with a great social atmosphere to generate a sport which essentially anyone can take part in and take great enjoyment out of it. So keep and eye out for Korf; you won’t regret it.