A ball game for the 21st Century: Korfbal (or ‘Korfball’ if you are unsophisticated)

posted in: Europe, Lifestyle | 1

Korfbal game (image by Joan Garcia Wikimedia Commons)

Korfbal (or “Korfball in its Anglicized form) is a ball sport which is gaining popularity in recent years. Probably because it is one of the rare sports where the men and women can play in the same team!

Korfbal is played by two teams of eight players with either eight females in each team or with four females and four males in each team. The game is played in two halves of 30 minutes each. Only one person can defend another and you can only defend against an opponent of the same gender.

Dutch sport with Swedish roots

The sport was “invented” in 1902 by a Dutch school teacher called Nico Broekhuysen who somewhat copied it from Ringboll which he saw while visiting Sweden (By the way, Ringboll seems to have disappeared into obscurity in Sweden only to re-appear in the other end of the World, in South Africa in 1970’s as a “traditional South African sport” Ringball).

Saved from extinction in Holland by international acceptance

Actually, up until around 2010, the popularity of Korfbal had been in constant decline in The Netherlands. But then a strange phenomenon happened. The sport has been taken up by some amateurs in other countries. Then in turn it started its current revival in The Netherlands where this international acceptance fuels the sport’s popularity even further. Every day another country federation seems to join the International Korfball Federation which happens to be based in The Netherlands (of course).

The sport is especially gaining popularity at the universities (Korfbal Network) around the world.

The most boring question: Which country will be the champion this year?

European or other international cup organizations are still a bit amateurish compared to other established sports and almost always end with the Netherlands I and Netherlands II teams (2 national teams of Holland) taking up the first 2 positions. This happens so consistently that, they could as well reserve these two positions for The Netherlands and organize the competition for the remaining positions.

Like basketball but not quite…

The sport is similar to basketball in a way. As a matter of fact, Korfbal literally means basketball in the Dutch language. The idea is to throw the ball through a korf (basket) to make a point. But the similarity starts and ends there. Here is a short and somewhat entertaining film about the rules of the game:


[ Korfbal game image by oan Garcia Badalona / CC BY-SA, Image cropped] [ Video ‘The rules of Korfball’ by Ninh Ly – Youtube]

  1. Marjolein

    You forgot to mention that after the game, the male and female players take showers together 🙂 It would sauce it up further -:)