Students Schooled in Hamilkorf

Students took to the court to try Korfball.
Students took to the court to try Korfball.
“The great thing about immersing yourself into a foreign culture is taking advantage of all the new opportunities it presents,” says Louis Boguchwal ’13. “Trying something new is the only way to expose yourself to the opportunities.”  Boguchwal is referring to korfball - a game resembling basketball meets ultimate Frisbee, played with what looks like a soccer ball on a court divided into zones, with gender-specific rules.

Upon his arrival at Hamilton, Boguchwal became determined to introduce the sport of korfball to the student body. He learned to play korfball during his one-year stay at St. Andrew’s University in Scotland. The game quickly developed into a passion that Boguchwal felt he needed to share with others. “It’s a social game,” says Boguchwal. “Whether you want to play competitively or recreationally there are opportunities at every level.”

At noon in Alumni Gymnasium on Oct. 24, a group of Hamilton students had the privilege of attending a korfball workshop instructed by David Warren, the U.S. Korfball National Federation president. Warren began playing korfball when he was a freshman at Hope College, and quickly fell in love with the sport. “It provides great travel opportunities at all levels of play,” says Warren. Warren has traveled across Europe on numerous korfball tours, both as a college student and as a competitive player at the international level. He provided Hamilton students with instruction and a basic history of korfball. Though his drills and practice routines taxed the students, laughter reverberated off the walls during the workshop.

Created in the Netherlands more than 100 years ago, korfball is currently played in 57 nations worldwide. The U. S. has not fully adopted the sport yet, though the rest of the world anxiously waits for it to catch hold. Hamilton currently hosts the only collegiate korfball club in the United States.

The game is played on court divided into two halves, or zones. At the end of each zone stands a post three and a half meters tall with a plastic basket fixed to the top. Players score by throwing the ball through the basket. A korfball resembles a soccer ball, but has greater grip and bounce. Each team consists of four men and four women. Based on equity and the use of tactics, the rules of korfball prohibit physical prowess and athleticism from deciding the outcome of a game. Strategy, not strength, determines the winner. Players are allowed two steps when carrying the ball; they may not simply run amuck with it. Men may only guard men, just as women may only guard women.

Additionally, players may not shoot when properly defended. This occurs when the defender faces the attacker at an arm’s length away attempting to block the ball. Called the ‘good defender rule,’ this rule ensures that size and strength do not give certain players advantages over others.

Learning quickly, the Hamilton students avidly took in every word spoken by Boguchwal and Warren as they explained the intricacies and strategies involved in the game. As the students struggled to master their shooting technique, it became blatantly obvious that korfball is as challenging as it is novel. The session ended in an intense game, bitterly fought to the end. Though somewhat exhausted from Warren’s workshop, the Hamilton Korfballers enjoyed themselves immensely and left Alumni Gymnasium with the knowledge that they’re among a select group of novices in a unique sport.

This story appeared in the November issue of eNews.
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