Korfball is a dynamic mixed team sport, originally from Holland. It has been described as a mixture of Handball, Netball & Basketball. The pitch is divided into 2 halves with a basket (korf) in each division- the idea being to score as many goals as you can! It's great fun and very easy to pick up, with most UK players starting as adult beginners. It's mainly played inside in winter, when there are league matches, but also outside in summer, with all-day tournaments.
Korfball is played by two teams of 8 (4 men, 4 women) on a rectangular pitch 40m by 20m, divided into two halves. There is a goalpost in each half with the basket at the top at the top of the 3.5m pole (1.5ft higher than a netball post) and no backboard. The ball is similar to a football. The two zones, defence and attack, are occupied by two men and two women from each team.
Action consists almost entirely of passing the ball by hand from person to person. Attackers try to lose their defenders in order to create a shooting chance. This is not easy because an attacker is not allowed to shoot if the defender is within arms' length and nearer to the post. Players may only mark a player of the same sex. Apart from playing within one half of the field there are no set positions and players need to have all round skills since whenever two goals are scored in the match the players change zones (ie those who were attacking now become defenders and vice versa).
Korfball was invented by a Dutch schoolteacher in 1902, and came to the UK in 1946 as part of a cultural exchange which also saw cricket exported to Holland. It is not in the Olympics but features in the World Games (multi-sport event for non-Olympic sports) every four years which makes it on a part with karate, rugby sevens, squash and orienteering.
The sport started to spread outside the London area in the 1980s and is now played by both adults and juniors in many parts of the UK. The British Korfball Association will be celebrating their 60th anniversary in 2006. The Great Britain international team consistently hold a top-eight world ranking.
More details and club listings can be found from the British Korfball Association, on their website: englandkorfball.co.uk
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