What is Korfball?

‘Korf’ is the Dutch word for ‘basket’, so it should come as no surprise to learn that Korfball is a team sport that originated in the Netherlands in the early years of the twentieth century. In fact, Korfball was the brainchild of Dordrecht-born schoolteacher Nicolaas Broekhuijsen, who drew his inspiration from an existing, but more involved, Swedish game known as ‘Ringboll’ or, in English, ‘Ring Ball’. His idea caught on; the International Korfball Federation (IKF) was founded in 1933, the first IKF World Korfball Championship was held in 1978 and, nowadays, Korfball is played in over 50 countries worldwide.

Korfball can be played indoors or outdoors and incorporates elements of basketball, handball and netball. Teams consist of eight players – four male and four female by definition – and are split into two zones, attack and defence, which switch back and forth after every two goals. Two male and two female players from each side take up positions in each zone, although players are not permitted to defend against someone of the opposite sex.

A Korfball court is typically rectangular, measuring 20 metres by 40 metres. The object of the game is to score a goal, or basket, by throwing a ball, akin to a regulation association football, through a bottomless basket, positioned at a height of 3.5 metres and a distance of approximately 6.6 metres from the back of each zone.

As in netball, players cannot dribble or otherwise travel with the ball in hand, but must rely on passing the ball to one another. A player catching the ball must keep his or her landing foot stationary, but can pivot around that foot in order to complete a pass to a team-mate. Granted the mixed-gender nature of Korfball, physical blocking, holding and tackling are not permitted.

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