In the world of sport, a sudden emphasis on physical attributes has sprung up. Gone are the days when the late George Best played boozed-up wing-man in a Manchester nightclub on the Friday night, only to become a dazzling winger at Old Trafford the following afternoon.
Several of the nation’s sports have been criminally subjected to a sub-standard quality of competitor, with clubs substituting six-pack stomachs for skill. For anyone who finds swallowing this new mindset tougher than a wrestler’s breast tissue, perhaps korfball is an option.
That’s not to say there are eight Andy Fordham body doubles shuffling around the court, but teamwork and tactics are the attributes which gain prominence. As Rosie Hart, captain of OUKoC explains, ‘it’s much more a tactical game than a show of brute strength.’
It is easy to see why. No running, no dribbling, no contact. Indeed, the focus is heavily on a passing game, with attempts to basket the ball only allowed if a defender is not in a position to block the shot.
Given that it was founded by Dutch schoolteacher Nico Broekhuysen in the early 20th century, Korfball’s all-inclusive nature should be expected. It is the only truly unisex sport, with four of each gender lining up in an eight-person team.
The archetypal ‘fat kid’ won’t be placed in defence the whole game either, as the four attackers and four defenders swap after every two goals – something which Rosie Hart believes ensures the sport’s mammoth popularity: ‘This together with the fact that the vast majority of people haven’t even heard of korfball before they reach university helps attract a much wider range of people than any other sport.’
Unlike Aussie Rules, which was spotlighted a fortnight ago, korfball has no players from the two countries in which the sport is most prominent – Holland and Belgium; an odd pair of countries, given their flat lands and korfball’s extremely high baskets: they’re over a foot and a half higher than the regulatory basketball and netball variations.
Clearly the sport is translating well to other countries, as the plethora of nationalities which compose the Oxford University squad have experienced recent success, winning two out of the last three Varsity encounters and finishing an impressive 2nd in the BUSA Nationals.
Korfball is a game which many people enjoy and gain success in regularly. And there isn’t an African defensive midfielder in sight.