Sport | Society in Focus – Korfball

From afar, an unsuspecting observer watching a korfball game could be excused for seeing nothing other than a man/women throwing a football at a streetlight. That is, until they see the game in full flow.

A lively and team-oriented game, Leeds University Korfball President Matt Norman describes the subtle but significant differences between the Dutch sport and Basketball/Netball, its rise as a University sport, and the chances the team has ahead of this season.

Norman emphasises the tactical awareness required in the sport, as movement and the ability to outwit ones defender is the only way to create a scoring opportunity.

He said, “The aim is to get the ball into a 3.5m high korf, or basket.”

“The main difference between korfball and the other sports mentioned is that as an attacker you are not allowed to shoot if you are being ‘defended’. Being defended involves your defender being between the attacker and the post, an arms length away from the attackers chest and the defender has to be actively trying to block the ball.”

“This means that korfball is lot more tactical than the sports it is similar too as you have to use your team mates a lot more to try and work some space for a shot.”

Another key difference is its focus on integrating the genders, while maintaining physical fairness through men marking men, and women marking women.

Norman explains, “The court is split in to 2 halves and in one team you will have an attacking division and a defending division consisting of 2 boys and 2 girls in each half. These division are switched every 2 goals in the game so all players have to be able to defend and attack.”

Norman sees this as the key strength of the sport, and explains how competing works within a University context.

He said, “I think Leeds has been regarded as a fairly consistent “middle of the table” kind of team in the recent years. Last year at the BSKA (British Students Korfball Association) nationals our first team came 12th out of a total of 21 universities that play in the UK.”

The University has itself also played host to the Northern Regional qualifiers for the BUCS National Finals back in 2010.

Competing within local and University leagues, including Yorkshire Korfball Association, Central England Regional Legaue and the new Central England University Regional League (marking progress towards making Korfball a BUCS sport), Norman hopes to push on this year to the top eight, but has also set up a second team to develop, encouraging new members to apply.

He said, “It’s great to get involved because very few people have ever even heard of it before they come to university so everyone starts on the same page and can develop together.

“It’s also great as, because it’s multi sexed, there’s something in it for everyone and it’s not as intense as a lot of other sports with a lot of good socials.”

Korfball’s Give it a Go session will be held on October 23rd in the Edge at 5pm, no sign-up required. No trials are held so this will be your best chance to find out the exciting emerging sport.

Jamie Kirby

Image courtesy of unipod

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