There are a lot of ball sports in my challenge: netball, basketball, handball, dodgeball, floorball, stoolball and the recently identified Wallball. Also on the list is korfball. Last week, I switched over to the BBC programme Pointless, which was on this exact topic and it turns out 5 of these sports were pointless (according to the programme). Not only do I have a new layer of knowledge through this challenge, but in an alternate reality, I would have won £6,000 on a game show.
There are no korfball clubs in Cornwall, so I dusted off my passport and made a second foray in a week over the Tamar Bridge to Devon, and a meeting with Exeter Korfball club. The club were putting on an open session for beginners to experience the sport. Being surrounded by newbies was a new experience for me, as I usually have a fleet of babysitters to take me through the sport but last night I was strangely anonymous around people who were as clueless as I was.
Korfball is a mixed team sport: 4 girls and 4 boys and off the top of my head, is unique amongst other sports in that regard. As previously noted, I like team sports and I like blokey banter, so this had the potential to be right up my street. However, I became alarmed by the size of the basket which was wheeled out - at over 11ft high it looked like a netball hoop on steroids. I couldn’t even imagine a possibility where my short self could score with something that high up.
We warmed up in a circle throwing the ball to each other, and once we were comfortable with our throwing and catching we sat down to watch the team actually play a game. The match was played at a fast pace and had similarities with netball, apart from the fact that I have never seen a man play netball…maybe more should, these guys were good. Play could go around the hoop as it wasn’t stuck on a back line, but the main difference was that if you were being closely marked, you couldn’t take a shot, so there was a lot of movement to free yourself from your defender.
The pros started to come off and give their bibs to us rookies to take over in their positions. There were quite a few newbies and I suddenly felt the need to get a drink of water, which happened to be at the back of the line. When my wimpery was exposed, I was given a bib and went on the court. Girls can only mark girls but unfortunately, my opponent was a good number of inches taller than me, so fleet of foot and cunning were the order of the day. The game was relentless and I was kicking myself for wearing my tracky bottoms, as I was quickly turning the colour of a newly hatched lobster.
The match finished and we split into four groups to practise shooting. We threw the ball to a teammate and then ran to pick up their pass and hoist it into the basket. Technique is everything. You can forget the one handed netball shot; what was encouraged was a two-handed lob into the air. Six attempts later, I perfected the technique to bag myself a basket. There were no cheerleaders to whoop at my achievement but internally, I was high fiving myself.
After, it was back to the game and I was far keener for the bib. The match was fast, hot and frenetic but thoroughly enjoyable. One of the girls had played for Holland and I watched how she played the game. I tried to master watching the opponent like she did and not the ball, which was slightly disorientating, and I did get hit on the head by random fire but I shook it off and continued.
Korfball was a thoroughly enjoyable game and although reminiscent of my netball days, it also felt very different with the male dynamic included. Definitely worth a try if you’re local to a Korfball club.
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