10 things you didn’t know about korfball
1. Korfball was invented in 1902 by a Dutch PE teacher, Nico Broekhuysen, who wanted to create a sport that boys and girls could play together at school. This was regarded as pretty ground-breaking at the time.
2. What is more shocking in 2019 is that it is still the only Olympic-recognised team sport specifically designed to be played in mixed gender teams.
3. Korf is the Dutch word for “basket” – so to the Dutch, Korfball IS Basketball.
4. Korfball has been a demonstration sport at the Olympic Games twice, in 1920 and 1928. It is currently played at the World Games, the multi-sport event held every 4 years for those sports which are not (yet) contested at the main Olympic Games.
5. Korfball is played in over 70 countries worldwide, and has been played in the UK since World War II. England will be competing at the World Championships in Durban, South Africa, in August 2019, where they are seeded 6th.
6. Korfball has a South African cousin, also originally called Korfball but now called Ringball, which is traditionally played in men-only or women-only teams. Ringball has been described as a hybrid between netball and rugby.
7. Korfball can be played on just about any surface – most international competitions are on indoor courts, but the game can also be played on grass, AstroTurf, and outdoor hard-courts. There is even water korfball and korfball on ice!
8. Beach korfball has evolved into a serious sport in its own right, with the first Beach Korfball World Cup due to be held in France in July 2019.
9. You can do a PhD in korfball at Zhengzhou University, China, which has a dedicated International Korfball Research Center.
10. Merseyside band Half-Man Half-Biscuit even wrote a pop song about korfball, called “Joy in Leeuwarden” about a trip to the 2010 Korfball European Championships.