Korfball or Korfbal

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A Short Introduction

Korfball was developed in 1902, by a teacher from Amsterdam called Nico Broekhuysen. Ever since then, it has grown into a modern sport, and is well-known for the following characteristics:

  • Korfball is based on teamplay.

  • Korfball is a mixed sport. Men and women compete equally in the same team, all playing under the same conditions and rules.

  • Korfball is a non-aggressive sport.

  • Korfball is played throughout the entire year. In the summertime1 the game is played outside on a field. During the winter period2,
    it's played inside, in a hall.

  • As with most other games, Korfball is played for various reasons; prestige, health or just for the fun of it.

In The Netherlands, Korfball is found fifth on the list of most popular team-sports, following on behind Football, Volleyball, Hockey and Basketball. There are about 100.000 people in the Netherlands who play the game, 40.000 of which are youth players (up to age 18). All of these players are members of one of the 639 clubs to be found in Holland. The clubs are, in their turn, members of the KNKV, the organisation which takes care of all aspects of the game in Holland3.

The game is not confined only to Holland, however. There are more then 35 countries all over the world where korfbal is played. Although Belgium and the Netherlands still rule the world of korfbal, other countries such as Australia, Pakistan and England are forming teams and showing an increased interest.

The Actual Game

Korfbal is played on a field 60 metres long and 30 metres wide. The field is divided into two separate sections. Each section has a pole with a 'bucket' attached to it; the korf. The height of this pole is 3 metres and 50 centimetres. There are two teams, both of 8 people: 4 men and 4 women. They are positioned into the two sections, 2 men and 2 women in each section. One section is the offensive section, the other the defensive; these positions reversed for the other team. The idea of the game is pretty easy to understand. By playing the ball to other players from your team, without walking or dribbling, you are supposed to throw the ball into the bucket. The defensive side of the opponent's team tries to prevent that happening. There are various ways to do this.

The easiest way is, of course, to intercept the ball while the other team is building up their attack. The other way is to defend your direct opponent when he/she makes an attempt to score. The defending is simply done by holding up your arm when you're in between your opponent and the korf. You must be within range of your opponent though; that is to say, when you lower your arm, you must be able to touch the shoulder of your opponent. The other restriction in defending is the fact that a man can only defend another man, and a woman can only defend another woman.

If the referee decides that the shot was indeed defended, the defending team gets a free ball, and can try to play the ball into their offensive section.

Other rules in this game state that a player cannot leave his/her own section, unless there have been two goals scored. When that happens, the two sections switch position and role. The offensive players go into defense, and the defenders can have a go at offense.

A regular korfbal match takes 2 x 35 minutes on a field, and 2 x 30 minutes in a hall. The younger players (up to age 12) have games that last 2 x 20 minutes though, and they also don't switch position and roles after two goals, but after 10 minutes in each half. This rule was established because, in a youth match, there is less scoring and it was deemed unfair for the players to be stuck defending the whole time.

The score is counted in the same way as football. A goal is worth one point, the team with the most points wins the match. The one keeping track of the score is the referee. There is only one referee in the field. He/she is also the one who decides if a shot is defended, if one of the teams recieve a free ball, and when the match is over.
Free balls are given in various circumstances. Some examples are:

  • When a player is walking with the ball in his/her hands.

  • When the ball is touched or played by any player's foot.

  • When an attempt at scoring is judged defended.

  • When a player is obstructed while recieving the ball, or attempting to score.

  • When a player pulls the ball out of his/her opponents hands.

These are only a few examples. There are variations to these situations, as well as some other rules that cannot be violated. A lot of times the recieving of a free ball is dependant on the judgement and the interpretation of the referee though. If a rule is violated in an extreme way, the other team recieves a penalty shot. This shot takes place at 2 metres and 50 centimetres from the korf. This may not be defended, and all the players in the section have to be outside a range of the same distance from the player taking the penalty shot.

Why Korfball is Played

On the whole, korfbal is a sport that is mostly about having a good time. Free from the circus of transfers, salaries and vandalism, the players who practise this game, from the kids that are learning ball control, the players who are passionately trying to make it into the Big Final in Ahoy (the best thing one can achieve in korfbal), to the elder people who are playing for the recreation, are all having a great time playing it, not the least for the after-match get-together in the bar...


19.06.00. Front Page

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1August until November and April until July.2August until November and April until July.3The equivalent of the KNVB (Football in Holland) or UEFA (Football in Europe).

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