Even Japan Plays Korfball

When I was at university, I played on the Korfball team. It didn’t quite have the wow factor of football, basketball or rugby, but I was proud to be a starting member for the Essex first team, even though we were awful!

Nick, what in the world is korfball?

Korfball is the world’s only true mixed gender team sport with the rules laid down so that both men and women have equal opportunities. [Korfball.org]

Korfball (Dutch: Korfbal) is a team ball game, similar to mixed netball. It is played in more than 50 countries. The Netherlands and Belgium have most players. A team consists of four men and four women.

Korfball is played in over 50 countries including Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Greece, Serbia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, India, Netherlands, Belgium, Russia, Germany, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Portugal, Sweden, Philippines and France. It was a demonstration sport in the Olympic Games of 1920 and 1928, held in Antwerp and Amsterdam). [Wikipedia]

And you say it’s played in Japan?

Korfball found its way to Japan in 1991 via the Tokyo YMCA, and is currently run by the Japan Korfball Association in Akita prefecture. Since then, Japan has competed in four Asia-Oceania Championships, with a best finish of 5th in India in 2002, and twice in the World Championships – Adelaide in 1999 and Rotterdam in 2003, finishing 12th and 16th respectively.

The best resource for Korfball in Japan seems to be the Korball Blog (Japanese | English translation), but you might want to watch some Korfball videos on YouTube to get a better dea of what it’s all about.

Should it be in the Olympics?

There is a strong argument for korfball’s inclusion in the Olympics, even over the likes of baseball and softball. As a mixed team sport, played worldwide, already established in the IOC’s World Games, and with TV-friendly match lengths, it seems ideal… but still as a relatively unknown sport, we may just have to wait a little longer yet.

This has been my entry into October’s Japan Blog Matsuri. For the latest Japan blog carnival news, tune into the Japan Blog Matsuri Newsroom.

If you like, you can find me on Twitter at @nick_ramsay. I'd love to hear from you!

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