posted October 26, 2005

Hope Introduces Holland to the Sport of Korfball

A sport unique to America will be showcased at HopeCollege when an exhibition game of korfball is played on Tuesday, Nov. 1, between a squad of current and former Hope students and a visiting European team.

The introduction of korfball to the West Michigan sports scene was the brainchild of Hope professor and softball coach Karla Wolters.  It caught her fancy when she saw the game played in the early 1990s and after researching the popular European coed game.  She now teaches a class in korfball and recently became a member of the International Korfball Federation. Last summer Wolters attended a clinic in the Netherlands to learn more about the sport.

The visiting team of players from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands will demonstrate the game in schools throughout West Michigan during their visit on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.  Later that week the European team will be travelling to SalemState (Mass.) College for another exhibition.

The exhibition game will be played at the college's DowCenter on Tuesday, Nov. 1, beginning at 5:30 p.m.  A clinic will precede the game from 4-5 p.m.  Admission will be free.

Korfball dates back to 1902 and is billed as the world's only coed team sport.  Korf is a Dutch word for basket and elements of the game are similar to basketball.  There are baskets at each end of the court, but no backboards.  There is no dribbling; only passing.  A team consists of four players, two men and two women.  Each shot is worth one point.

A Brief Overview of Korfball

Korfball traces its origins back to the Dutch teacher Nico Broekhuysen.  Broekhuysen developed the game in 1902 and dubbed it Korfball.  "Korf" is Dutch for basket, so "Korfball" literally means basketball, which the game does mimic in some ways.  Korfball was very progressive for its time as it is a co-ed game where equality and cooperation are the key principles.

Some key components of the game of Korfball include a basket 11 ½ feet above the ground (compared to 10 feet in basketball) - with no backboard - attached to a post.  There are eight players on the field of play (which can be either indoors or outside); four on the offensive zone of the field and four on the defensive side of the field.  A zone is very much comparable to a half-court in basketball.  The co-ed aspect of the game is achieved by having two male and two female athletes make up the four athlete total that the team must have in each zone.

Other key features of the game include a rule that does not allow a player in possession of the ball to move - a rule much like that of Ultimate Frisbee's.  Also, to create better equality, members of the opposite sex may not hinder an opponent trying to pass the ball.  Korfball uses a penalty system much like that of soccer's, with referees giving out yellow cards and red cards, depending on the severity of an athlete's wrong-doing.

Also of interest, the scoring system in Korfball is derived from soccer, with each goal counting as one point.  A match is typically comprised of two thirty-minute halves and final scores are usually in high teens for the winning team and low teens for the losing team depending on the closeness of the match.