Updated: May 20, 2019
An excellent blog post by Ely Vikings Korfball Club member James Thomson about discovering korfball!
I first read about Korfball about thirty-five years ago as a sport obsessed teenager glancing idly through the Oxford Companion to Sports and Games. At the time it looked impenetrable and, frankly, Dutch, so I pushed it to the further recesses of my mind. A few years later I came across it again as a student, being dimly aware of the existence of a university Korfball club. I even briefly entertained the notion of going along but was too busy with other sports so, once again, I pushed it to the back of my mind.
Quite a number of years later, now coaching junior cricket in Ely, I discovered that Ely had what looked to be a thriving Korfball club that used the hall after our winter training, but still I ignored it. It was only last year, when trying to come up with a sport for my teenage son to play, that Korfball pushed itself forward and, finally, I suggested that at least one family member should get involved. So I took him to a training session.
I'd gone with a book, planning to sit quietly in the corner until the two-hour session was over, but I didn’t read a single page. I was genuinely excited by what I saw, not just because of my natural compulsion to watch any sort of team sport but because the idea started to form that I could do this. I was fifty, overweight, asthmatic, with dodgy knees and gout so I was never going to be particularly good, but I reckoned that I still had just about enough ball sense from playing rugby and cricket (I could, at the very least, throw and catch) to give it a go.
Seven months later I’ve just finished my first season of competitive Korfball. I’m a Team 3 stalwart, adding height and bulk if not speed, and will never be anything else, but it has been a transformative experience. Having long since concluded that my days of sport were behind me it’s been wonderful to be back on a court and, best of all, to play in the same team as my son. I’ve come to look forward to training and Sunday night matches as the highlights of my week, even if it usually takes three or four days before I can walk normally again, and I’ve continually been struck by the friendliness not only of my fellow Vikings but of the sport as a whole. At the level that I’m playing at we want to win (although we don’t), but most of all we want to enjoy ourselves and to keep improving as players, even those of us whose hair is white. I would recommend it to anyone.
Author: James Thomson of Ely Vikings Korfball Club
Korfball Pictures: Lucy Lloyd of Ely Vikings Korfball Club