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What is Korfball?

Korfball is a fast-paced and dynamic game that is the only truly mixed gender team sport in the world. The sport is accessible to anyone, whether young or old, male or female, beginner or international athlete. Korfball was invented by school-teacher Nico Broekhuysen in 1902. He wanted a sport that boys and girls could play together on equal terms, encouraging team work and cooperation.

The principles are similar to those of netball, handball and basketball but the unique defending and mixed sex rules make for a much more varied game at a much faster pace. It consists of teams of eight players, with two females and two males in each of the two sections. The Korfball playing area consists of two large squares joined along the centre line, within each square is a ‘Korf’ set in one third from the back line. One section starts the game in attack, the other in defence, but players swap roles after every two goals scored throughout the game.

The sport is based on cooperation within the team, and the rules provide equality – players can only mark or be marked by an opposing player of the same sex. Individual challenges and competitiveness are still enjoyed within this framework that priorities teamwork and equality.

The complete rules of Korfball can be found here.

Summary of rules

  • Korfball has one basket to score into at each end of the court – it’s similar to basketball and netball in this respect.
  • One section starts the ball in attack, the other in defence. The sections swap round every time two goals have been scored.
  • Teams divide into two sections – two males and two females in each section.
  • A player is not allowed to mark someone of the opposite sex.
  • Players are not allowed to run with the ball, dribble it or make contact with the ball below the knee.
  • Pushing, barging or holding an opponent or knocking the ball from an opponent’s hands are not allowed.
  • A unique rule of Korfball is the “defended shot“ rule. This encourages co-operation as well as ensuring that shorter players can still mark taller players. An attacker cannot shoot if a defender of the same sex is:
    • Closer to the basket than the attacker
    • Is within an arm’s length of them
    • Has their face turned towards the attacker and is attempting to block the shot