What do you get when you cross basketball and netball? It’s not a terrible joke devised by your six-year-old cousin, it’s the basis behind korfball. And a Cardiff University student is about to go national with the sport.
Will Hayward, originally from Northampton, has just joined the Welsh national team. It’s a fitting tribute to the immense work he’s done to bring the sport to the forefront in Wales.
“I first got involved with the sport at Cardiff University seven years ago,” said Will, who is currently doing a Masters in News Journalism at the university. “I used to do lots of Martial Arts and was looking for my next sporting fix. When I started playing korfball, I really loved it. In 2011 I started my own club Cardiff Raptors, which now has three teams.”
So what IS korfball? Will said: “Think a mixture of basketball and netball and you’re pretty much there. You have to score through a hoop, or korf.”
In reality though, it is played in a totally different way to the aforementioned sports, mainly due to the make-up of the teams. Will believes it to be the world’s only true gender equal sport.
Could Korfball be the answer to gender equality in sports?
Men and women play on the same team, with four of each per side. Men can only mark men and women can only mark women.
“That means that even though the guys might be stronger or faster than the girls, if a girl on their team has the beating of her marker, she is the most important player,” he points out.
Like many other team sports, Will praises the camaraderie among himself and his team mates for making it such an enjoyable sport to play.
“The best thing is the friends you make. It’s also nice to play a mixed sport. Not just for the reasons you imagine- I mix with both guys and girls there, which makes for an atmosphere nicer and more inclusive than most rugby or netball clubs.”
Trials and tribulations
Training alongside his work for university can be challenging, but Will admits he’s addicted to it.
His appointment to the Welsh team comes after a spell of trouble following the 2011 World Championships.
“I went to the world championships in China but got injured just after I got back from there. I have been having operations and getting back fit until the end of last year. I want to push to being a regular starter in time for the European championships next year.”
You may not have heard of korfball, but Will aims to change that.
“It’s very popular in The Netherlands, but not quite so much here. The worst thing about the sport is having to explain to people what it is every time. I need to get pamphlets made. Once you bring it into schools, then that’s when I think it will really take off.”
Are you a Korfball fan? Tell us why you love it in the comments!