Korfball (Dutch: Korfbal) is a ball sport, with similarities to netball and basketball. It is played by two teams of eight (8) players with four (4) female players and four (4) male players in each team. The objective is to throw a ball into a netless basket that is mounted on a 3.5 m (11.5 feet) high pole.

The sport was invented by Dutch school teacher Nico Broekhuysen in 1902. In the Netherlands, there are approximately 500 clubs and more than 90,000 people playing korfball. The sport is also played in Belgium and Taiwan, and in nearly 70 other countries.

Outdoor korfball match in the Netherlands
Highest governing bodyInternational Korfball Federation
First played1902
Team members8 per side: 4 male players and 4 female players
Mixed genderYes
TypeTeam sport, ball sport
VenueKorfball court
OlympicDemonstration sport in 1920 and 1928
World Games1985 – present
Outdoor Korfball


Korfbal 1928 actie
Korfball match at the 1928 Summer Olympics in the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam

In 1902 Nico Broekhuysen, a Dutch school teacher from Amsterdam, was sent to Nääs, a town in Sweden, to follow an educational course about teaching gymnastics to children. This is where he was introduced to the Swedish game "ringboll". In ringboll one could score points by throwing the ball through a ring that was attached to a 3 m pole. Men and women played together, and the field was divided into three zones. Players could not leave their zone.[1][2]

Broekhuysen was inspired; and when he returned to Amsterdam he decided to teach his students a similar game. He replaced the ring with a basket (for which the Dutch word is Korf or mand), so it was easier to see whether or not a player had scored. Broekhuysen also simplified the rules so that children could also understand and play the game. Thus korfball was born. The main idea was the same as ringboll, but the new sport now stood on its own.

The oldest still existing korfball club to never have merged with any other club is a Dutch korfball club H.K.C. ALO from The Hague, Netherlands. H.K.C. ALO was founded on 1 February 1906.

At first, there was considerable controversy about the sport, because the players were of both sexes. Several sports journalists refused to pay even the slightest attention to the new sport. Korfball players were accused of being immoral. Even the sportswear was criticised, because the women were showing bare knees and ankles; one newspaper wrote that "Korfball is a monster that spreads its claws to all sides[3]". Yet korfball was featured as a demonstration sport in the Summer Olympics of 1920 and 1928.[4]

The International Korfball Federation was founded in 1933 in Antwerp, Belgium.

Korfball is played in 69 countries including: United States, China, England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Australia, New Zealand, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Greece, Serbia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, India, the Netherlands, Belgium, Nigeria, Marocco, Ghana, Russia, Germany, Taiwan, Turkey, Hong Kong, Portugal, Pakistan, India, Sweden, Hungary, the Philippines, Indonesia, Italy, Spain, France, and Romania. It is growing in popularity in the U.K., and is referenced in a song by the band Half Man Half Biscuit entitled "Joy in Leeuwarden (We Are Ready)" on their 2011 album 90 Bisodol (Crimond).

Korfball has been played in the World Games since 1985. IKF World Korfball Championships have been held every four years since 1978. The leading nations are the Netherlands, Chinese Taipei, and Belgium.

Hong Kong hosted its first international tournament, the IKF Asia Oceania Korfball Championship, in 2006. New Zealand hosted the IKF Asia Oceania Youth Korfball Championships in 2007.

Rules and regulations


Korfball is played inside in winter and outdoors in spring and autumn.

The size of the indoor court is 20 m × 40 m (22 yd × 44 yd), most outdoor courts are 20 m × 40 m (22 yd × 44 yd). The court is divided into halves called zones. In each zone is a 3.5 m (11 ft) tall post with a basket at the top. This is positioned two-thirds of the distance between the center line and the back of the zone.[2]


A korfball team consists of eight players; four female and four male.[5]


Korfball match in the Netherlands

An international korfball match typically consists of four (4) periods, with the length varying depending on the competition, but typically between 7 and 10 minutes, with a one-minute break between the first and second periods and between the third and fourth periods. At half time the break is five minutes.[5]

Four players of each team are in one zone and the other four are in the other zone. Within each zone, a player may only defend a member of the opposite team of the same gender.

At the beginning of the match, one team chooses a particular half of the court. That half will be that team's defending zone, with "their" basket in it. Players score by throwing the ball through the opposing team's basket. After two goals, the teams change zones: defenders become attackers and attackers become defenders. In between those zone-changes, attackers cannot set foot on their defending zone or vice versa. At half time the teams swap halves of the court.

The rules prevent physical strength dominating the game. Blocking, tackling, and holding are not allowed, nor is kicking the ball.

Once a player has the ball, that player cannot dribble or walk with it; however, the player can move one foot as long as the foot on which the player landed when catching the ball stays in the same spot. Therefore, tactical and efficient teamwork is required, because players need each other in order to keep the ball moving.

A player may not attempt to score when defended, which occurs when the defender is in between the opponent and the basket, is facing his/her opponent, or is within arm's length and attempting to block the ball. This rule encourages fast movement while also limiting the impact of players' height compared to their opponents.

International tournaments

World Games

The national teams competition organized by the International World Games Association has been played roughly every four years since 1981.

Year Host Champion Second place Third place
II Details 1985 United Kingdom  Netherlands  Belgium  United States
III Details 1989 West Germany  Netherlands  Belgium  West Germany
IV Details 1993 Netherlands  Netherlands  Belgium  Germany
V Details 1997 Finland  Netherlands  Belgium  Chinese Taipei
VI Details 2001 Japan  Netherlands  Belgium  Chinese Taipei
VII Details 2005 Germany  Netherlands  Belgium  Czech Republic
VIII Details 2009 Taiwan  Netherlands  Belgium  Chinese Taipei
VIII Details 2013 Colombia  Netherlands  Belgium  Chinese Taipei
IX Details 2017 Poland  Netherlands  Chinese Taipei  Belgium
X Details 2021 United States

IKF World Korfball Championship

The national teams competition organized by the International Korfball Federation has been played roughly every four years since 1978.

Year Host Champion Second place Third place
I Details 1978 Netherlands  Netherlands  Belgium  West Germany
II Details 1984 Belgium  Netherlands  Belgium  West Germany
III Details 1987 Netherlands  Netherlands  Belgium  Great Britain
IV Details 1991 Belgium  Belgium  Netherlands  Chinese Taipei
V Details 1995 India  Netherlands  Belgium  Portugal
VI Details 1999 Australia  Netherlands  Belgium  Great Britain
VII Details 2003 Netherlands  Netherlands  Belgium  Czech Republic
VIII Details 2007 Czech Republic  Netherlands  Belgium  Czech Republic
IX Details 2011 China  Netherlands  Belgium  Chinese Taipei
X Details 2015 Belgium  Netherlands  Belgium  Chinese Taipei
XI Details 2019 South Africa

IKF U23 World Korfball Championship

  • 2008 Kaohsiung, Taiwan – Winner: Netherlands
  • 2012 Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain – Winner: Netherlands
  • 2016 Olomouc, Czech Republic – Winner: Netherlands

Continental championships

IKF promotes four continental championships: European Korfball Championship, All-Africa Korfball Championship, Pan-American Korfball Championship and Asia-Oceania Korfball Championship.

Europa Cup for Clubs

Every year the IKF organises the Europa Cup for national champions (clubs). The Europa Cup was organized for the first time in 1967, and was won by Ons Eibernest from the Netherlands. The winner of the last edition was TOP/SolarCompleet, which also won in 2017.

PKC from Papendrecht, the Netherlands, have won the championship the most times, a record 12 wins in total.

Until now, the winning team was either from the Netherlands or Belgium, with respectively 45 and 6 Europa Cups. The only club from the United Kingdom to reach the final was Mitcham Korfball Club from London. Mitcham lost the final against Catbavrienden from Belgium in 1998.

Beach Korfball

For beach korfball, the rules of the game differ slightly from those of regular korfball. Each team has 4 starters and 2 substitutes. The field of play is 20 metres by 10 metres, and goals are to be placed 4 metres from the end line. Matches consist of two half of 6 minutes each with a 1-minute rest.

Each team has a total of 4 players in the field, two men and two women. Players can be substituted at any time. Furthermore, if a goal is scored from a 2-point zone, a two-point goal is awarded. Free shots can both be executed at the standard Free Shot line, or at the spot where the fault was made by the opponent.

The current European Beach Korfball champion is Belgium, while they won the IKF Beach Korfball World Cup (Europe) 2018. Portugal won the silver medal, and Poland wrote national korfball history by winning the bronze medal.

Cultural references

Korfball is the theme of the song "Joy in Leeuwarden (We Are Ready)" on the album 90 Bisodol (Crimond) by Half Man Half Biscuit.

See also


  1. ^ Koninklijk Nederlands Korfbalverbond. "History of korfball" (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 17 December 2010. Retrieved 4 February 2011.
  2. ^ a b "korfball". Webster's Sports Dictionary. Springfield, Mass.: G&G Merriam Company. 1976. p. 248.
  3. ^ "Sports On Call - Information You Can Access On One Call". Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  4. ^ Jurryt van de Vooren. "Forgotten Sport-heroes: Nico Broekhuysen" (in Dutch). Retrieved 4 February 2011.
  5. ^ a b IKF. "Complete Rules of Korfball" (PDF).

External links

Asia-Oceania Korfball Championship

Asia-Oceania Korfball Championship is the korfball competition played by the Asian and Oceanian national teams, organized by the Asia-Oceania Korfball Federation and the International Korfball Federation.

Australia national korfball team

The Australia national korfball team is managed by Korfball Australia (KA), representing Australia in international korfball competitions, including the Asia-Oceania Korfball Championships, the World Korfball Championships and The World Games.

Chinese Taipei national korfball team

The Chinese Taipei national korfball team is managed by the Chinese Taipei Korfball Association (CTKA), representing Taiwan in korfball international competitions.

European Korfball Championship

European Korfball Championship or European Korfball A-Championship is a korfball competition for European national teams organized by the International Korfball Federation. It was played every four years from 1998 until 2014 and then moved to a tournament every two years, starting from 2016. The number of participated teams has varied between 8 and 16. The Netherlands national korfball team has won each edition.

From 2005 until 2013, the IKF organized the Korfball European Bowl for nations which had failed to qualify for the European Korfball Championship. In these tournaments it was possible to win places for the next European Korfball Championships and sometimes also IKF World Korfball Championships. The tournament was abolished in 2013 as the number of teams in the European Korfball Championship had risen to 16, however the IKF decided to bring this number down again to 8 by 2018 and to create a European Korfball B-Championship similar to the European Bowl but with a promotion/relegation system to be put into place between both championships. These B-Championships will first be held in 2018.

France national korfball team

The France national korfball team is managed by the UFOLEP National Korfball Committee, representing France in korfball international competitions.

Germany national korfball team

The Germany national korfball team is managed by the Deutscher Turner Bund e.V (DTB), representing Germany in korfball international competitions.

Great Britain national korfball team

The Great Britain korfball team is managed by the British Korfball Association (BKA), representing Great Britain in korfball international competitions.

In 2007 it was split in 3 national teams: England, Wales and Scotland, that compete in all international competitions except the World Games, where they compete as a unified Great Britain and Northern Ireland korfball team.

Hong Kong national korfball team

The Hong Kong national korfball team is managed by the Hong Kong China Korfball Association (HKCKA), representing Hong Kong in Korfball international competitions.

The Hong Kong China Korfball Association (HKCKA) was established in 1999 with its mission of promotion and raising the standard of Korfball in Hong Kong.

Throughout the years, continuing efforts in the promotion and development of korfball for the local community were made with the focus to prepare players and officials to participate and achieve in both local and international korfball competitions.

IKF World Korfball Championship

IKF World Korfball Championship is an international korfball competition contested by the national teams of the members of International Korfball Federation (IKF), the sport's global governing body. The championship has been awarded roughly every four years since the inaugural tournament in 1978. The current champions are the Netherlands, who won the 2015 IKF World Korfball Championship.

The current format of the tournament involves 16 teams competing for the title at venues within the host nation over a period of about a week. The next edition - in August 2019, in Durban, South Africa - will take place with 20 national teams in competition. The 10 World Championships have been won by two different national teams. The Netherlands have won all but one time, losing only to Belgium in the 1991 Korfball World Championship.

India national korfball team

The International Korfball Federation (IKF) was founded in Antwerp (Belgium) on 11 June 1933 as a continuation of the International Korfball Bureau established in 1924 by the Dutch and Belgian Associations.The IKF was officially recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1993 and is affiliated to Sportaccord (Sportaccord), the Association of the IOC Recognized International Sports Federations (ARISF) and the International World Games Association (IWGA).The IKF aims to spread korfball around the globe. It provides close to sixty (60) affiliated member countries with financial, material, and structural support to achieve this goal. It has established a network of contacts in many countries and actively promotes the game by transferring knowledge internationally by exchange programmes and inviting selected korfball players, coaches, and administrators to its training courses to create a stable local structure in all the affiliated countries on which a flourishing korfball organisation can be built.The IKF is organised in five Continental Confederations – IKF Africa, IKF Americas, IKF Asia, IKF Europe and IKF Oceania – since 2011.The IKF General Meeting is the highest authority in the IKF. The IKF is managed on a daily base by the IKF Executive Committee – 8 members – and the IKF Council – 12 members.The IKF stimulates the global awareness that korfball is a spectator and media oriented mixed gender teamsport.

The India national korfball team is managed by the Korfball Federation of India (KFI), representing India in korfball international competitions.

India is the oldest korfball playing country in Asia. In 1979, when the game was first introduced in India, korfball popularity has continued to rise and now the game is being played in 27 States with each state having its own association to promote and organise events. Korfball is recognised by the Union Ministry for Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India and national championships in senior, junior and sub-junior categories and the inter-University and inter-school championships are being held regularly.

Korfball has produced some talented players who have made their state and country proud, including Pardeep Dahiya (Haryana),Mukesh Khandelwal ( Uttar Pradesh), Vizeta Marchino (Bihar), Rineesh Mittal, Aparna Singh (Uttar Pradesh), Rampal (Haryana), Mohan Padwanshi (Maharashtra),Nitu Chandra (Bihar), Madam (Haryana).

Rineesh Mittal and Vizeta Marchino were regular members of the Indian team from 1991–96.

Tournament History

International Korfball Federation

The International Korfball Federation (IKF) is the governing body of korfball. IKF is responsible for the organisation of korfball's major international tournaments, notably the IKF World Korfball Championship.

The IKF was founded on 11 June 1933 in Antwerp, Belgium as a continuation of the International Korfball Bureau established in 1924 by the Dutch and Belgian Associations. The headquarters is in Zeist (Netherlands). The IKF is officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1993 and is affiliated to SportAccord, the Association of the IOC Recognized International Sports Federations (ARISF) and the International World Games Association (IWGA).

The IKF aims to spread korfball around the globe and increase the level of play in the affiliated countries. The IKF has currently 67 member countries. It provides the affiliated countries via five Continental Confederations (Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania) with financial, material and structural support to achieve the goals. It has established a network of contacts in many countries and is constantly expanding this network. IKF actively promotes the game by transferring knowledge internationally by exchange programs and inviting selected korfball players, coaches and administrators to its training courses in order to assist in the creation of a stable local organization and structure in all the affiliated countries.

Japan national korfball team

The Japan national korfball team is managed by Japan Korfball Association (JKA), representing Japan in korfball international competitions.

Korfball Australia

Korfball Australia is the governing body for the sport of Korfball in Australia.The national body has eight state member associations. Korfball Australia is responsible for organising the various National Teams to compete in international competition, as well as organising the National Club Championships, the peak domestic competition.

Korfball at the Summer Olympics

Korfball was featured in the Summer Olympic Games demonstration programme in 1920 and 1928.

Netherlands national korfball team

The Netherlands national korfball team represents the Netherlands in international korfball. It is controlled by the Royal Dutch Korfball Association (KNKV), the governing body of korfball in the Netherlands.

New Zealand national korfball team

The New Zealand national korfball team, nicknamed The Korus, is the national team representing New Zealand in korfball international competitions. The team is managed by Korfball New Zealand (KNZI). The name The Korus is one of many national team nicknames (indirectly) related to the All Blacks and/or the New Zealand silver tree fern. However the plural for koru is koru.

Russia national korfball team

The Russia national korfball team is managed by the Russian Korfball Federation (RKF), representing Russia in korfball international competitions.

South Africa national korfball team

The South Africa national korfball team is managed by the South African Korfball Federation (SAKF), representing South Africa in korfball international competitions.

In 2014 they won their third African Championship, held in Zambia.

United States national korfball team

The United States national korfball team is managed by the United States Korfball Federation (USKF), representing the United States in korfball international competitions.

In 2006, Canada, along with the USA formed North America to compete in the Commonwealth and Friends Korfball Championship. Finishing 6th out of 7.

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