Korfball gains popularity

Shoot . . . Gleniti School pupils (from left) Sophie, 9, Lindsey, 9, and Stevie, 10, get in some practice before the next match. PHOTOS: CONNOR HALEY

The Dutch sport korfball is scoring points with local primary school pupils.

Last week Christchurchbased korfball organisation Mixx held the first South Canterbury school cup at the Aorangi Park Netball courts.

Mixx co-founder Torsten Ball said after emigrating to New Zealand the potential to grow the sport in Canterbury was instantly there.

‘‘With the school sports system that’s in place we believed this was a perfect sport for schools. It took us a couple years to figure it out.

‘‘We started in Timaru with Gleniti back in 2021 just before Covid but got disrupted. Now we have momentum . . .next year we want to introduce an afterschool academy here as well.

‘‘We just want to give a little bit extra to the community each year.’’

Korfball can be described as a mix between basketball and netball but a key difference is that teams must be comprised of both boys and girls.

Colourful . . . Gleniti School pupils (from left) Olivia, 9, Isla, 11, Sophie, 10, Sophie D, 9, and Harper, 10, enjoyed playing with a fluorescent marker.

‘‘For schools, they see that the boys are now co-operating with the girls and everybody is included. We need that.’’

Mr Ball described the sport as very easy to learn.

‘‘The way we do our sessions is at the start there are only two rules and it’s a bit of a free for all and you see the boys dominate. But the more rules we add — and there’s only five

— the boys are like ‘oh wait for me to get buckets I need to pass to the girls’.

‘‘They get this realisation moment and then for the girls it becomes more fun, now that. . .the boys realise sport is actually way more fun when everyone is having fun.’’

Some of the rules of the sport include things like boys only being able to defend boys and girls defending girls to keep it as balanced as possible.

You also can not shoot when there is someone between you and the goal. That means you have to keep passing to someone open which instantly means more teamwork.

Mr Ball said the reaction from the community so far had been amazing.

‘‘Every year we come back it’s such a great reception, it’s so welcoming. I feel almost part of the community.

‘‘Because we only come in once or twice a year it’s like ‘whoa you’re back, we’re gonna play’. It’s all excitement and all love.’’

Mr Ball said that ultimately they wanted to create a fun atmosphere with the game because ‘‘really kids just want to have fun’’.

Fun times . . . Gleniti School year 5 and 6 pupils enjoy a day out of the classroom to play korfball against other local schools.

‘‘They just want to have a good time and hopefully we provide that. The kids probably won’t remember what was said to them last year but they will remember the energy you gave to them.’’

The pupils playing could be seen covered in fluorescent marker and requesting songs to be played.

‘‘We respect the tradition but we are doing it a little bit differently and the kids are reacting to it.’’

Gleniti School sports coordinator and teacher Odette Franklin said the pupils absolutely loved it because it was so exciting and fast.

‘‘It’s such a fun day, it’s really fun being together and really cool it’s mixed. Everybody can do it and I think that’s the best bit about it.

‘‘I really hope it continues to grow in South Canterbury because it’s such an awesome sport for kids.’’

Gleniti pupils Sophie and Isla said their favourite thing about the sport was getting to work as a team and playing with friends but they equally enjoyed the opportunity to spend a day outside of the classroom playing sport.