Korfball is a game similar to netball and basketball invented in 1902 by Nico Broekhuysen, a schoolmaster from the Netherlands. Korfball is played in about 57 countries including United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium, Russia, Turkey, Portugal, Spain, Japan, India, Indonesia, Italy, France, Romania and many others. The International Korfball Federation was formed in 1933.
This game is played by two teams consisting of eight people (four men and four women) and each team has its own coach. Korfball can be played indoors and outdoors. The court is divided into so called zones, of which there are two zones: defense and attack, each is occupied by two men and two women from both teams. Each zone has a goalpost that supports a basket, which is located at either end of the court, two thirds between the center line and the back zone. The ball is about the same size as a soccer ball but it is lighter in weight.
The creator of the game, Nico Broekhuysen, who originated from Amsterdam, began his career by teaching gymnastics to children. Broekhuyesen was inspired by a game called “ringball” in which players scored by throwing the ball through a ring attached to a three meter pole. Just like korfball, ringball was played by mixed teams, composed of men and women. Inspired by this Sweden game, Nico Broekhuysen replaced the ring with a basket called “korf” or “mend”. The rules were made easier to understand so that children could easily learn and play this game. The idea of teams consisting of males and females was initially hard to accept by the public. In fact there was a point where korfball players were accused of being immoral. This may seem strange now but at that time a woman wearing an outfit which allowed their ankles and knees to be uncovered was a taboo. In spite of all the criticism, Korfball was presented as a demonstration sport in the Summer Olympics of 1920 and 1928.
A Korfball match lasts about an hour and it is divided into two periods of thirty minutes separated by a break of ten minutes. It can be said that Korfball is a peaceful game because basically the team players pass the ball from hand to hand. The purpose of the game is to score by throwing the ball through the opponent’s basket. The attacker cannot shoot while the defender is within an arm’s length. Physical strength does not dominate this game but tactics certainly do. Players are not allowed to kick, punch or run with the ball. In addition to that, players mustn’t dribble. Nevertheless a player can move one foot as long as the other stays on the same spot. Korfball is a team sport as players need to collaborate in order to keep the ball moving. After two goals, teams change zones meaning that attackers become defenders and vice versa.
As an outdoor game, Korfball can also be played on the beach but the rules are slightly different. Every team has four starters and four substitutes. In this type of game a single basket is used and what is more, matches consist of five minutes halves with breaks of three minutes.
Korfball championships have been organized every four years since 1978.The leading countries so far are the Netherlands, the mother country of this game and Belgium. As for continental championships, there can be mentioned the European Korfball Championship and Asia-Oceania Korfball Championship.
In short, there are two essential things that make a quality korfball match. First comes teamwork. There is no place for individual play as the ball has to be permanently passed from one player to another and also players must collaborate to develop strategies as korfball is a sport that evaluates tactics rather than muscles.
The other interesting fact about this game is that it allows both men and women to compete equally. Korfball promotes controlled physical contact as men and women play side by side but duels are man to man and woman to woman.