DELFT, The Netherlands — Korfball, a centuries-old cousin of basketball, is one of the world’s least-known but among the most progressive games, a rare team sport designed for men and women to play together in parity of numbers, with equal respect, value and responsibility.
Some 800 fans packed around the pitch in a small sports center here last month for the inaugural Champions League final, many playing the reds of local powerhouse Fortuna. A drum was beating insistently among the green-clad fans in support of Fortuna’s Dutch arch-rivals, the Papendrecht Korfball Club, known as PKC.
Korfball is played by around a million people in 70 countries., but is dominated by the Dutch in skill, participation and enthusiasm. It was invented in 1902 by Nico Broekhuysen, a Dutch schoolteacher, who wanted to create a game that boys and girls could play together. The sport has long sought its global momentum and hopes to find it by gaining inclusion in the 2032 Olympic Games in Brisbane, Australia.
Korf means basket in Dutch, and during the Fortuna-PKC game, the similarities to basketball (25-second shot clock, free throws) were evident, as were the notable differences (no 3-pointers or dunks, as all baskets count 1 point).
Dunks are not prohibited; they would only need a ladder. The cylindrical plastic basket, which is not attached to a backboard or red, sits about twelve feet on a metal pole, two feet higher than a basketball hoop.
No dribbling or running with the football-sized ball was allowed. Shots with a defender within arm’s reach of an attacker were not allowed. Fortuna and PKC played a traditional eight-on-eight game. Each team had two men and two women playing offense on one half of the court and two and two playing defense on the other half, switching roles after every two baskets.
Sanne van der Werff, 24, plays for the PKC and the Dutch national team while attending medical school.
«I feel the same as the boys», said. “I can say what I want. I can do what I want. I see a guy as another girl on our team. A 2 meter tall girl.
The PKC won, 19-10.
“I think male athletes work better when they have dominant women around them,” said Wim Scholtmeijer, 40, co-technical director of the PKC and former manager of the Dutch national team. “When you have a male-dominant culture, it’s not sustainable. It’s more ego driven. If it works, you can go very fast, but it’s like driving a car. If you go too fast, you go off the curve.”
By: JERÉ LONGMAN
BBC-NEWS-SRC: IMPORT DATE: 2023-02-28 21:30:08