Imagine a cross between netball and basketball, with less loutiness – or so I’m told. Maybe we don’t even compete?
“Netball can be a bit bitchy…” one woman confided, as we warmed up around the korfball stand, a magnificent 11.5ft structure holding a big yellow hoop. “When I got to university, I went off football, because it was a bit loutish,” said a guy. You won’t run short of chat at a korfball game; there are always a couple of people in reserve, and often a whole five-strong team waiting to play. That’s so sweet, I think. It’s the team sport for people so nice they can’t get along with any other team sport. Maybe we don’t even compete? Maybe we just pass the ball to each other, like piggy-in-the-middle without a pig?
Not so much: for the rules, imagine a cross between netball and basketball. Once you’ve got the ball, you have to shoot or pass it; you can bounce once, but you can’t dribble; the hoop is outrageously high, which makes it unusual for people to score from far away, which alters the dynamic. It’s truly unisex, but within that, rigorously segregated. Women mark women, men mark men; there weren’t enough men this Monday night, and from the alacrity with which three women offered to be men, I surmised that this was quite common. There were easily enough of us – 25 – to play a full match, eight at each end, but that involves quite a lot of standing about. If you’re an attacker, you’re not allowed at the defence end, so you’re just yelling “Shoot, shoot, shoot!” from across the line, and that’s in an ideal world. In (my) real life, I instead got distracted by a thought or insect, so when the ball returned I was woefully unprepared.