Lockdown sports series: Korfball


By Alice Lomas, Second Year Biochemistry

Over the coming weeks, Epigram Sport will look at how several University sports clubs have adapted to life in lockdown. In the fifth article of the series, the University of Bristol Korfball team explain their plan for surviving as a club.

Managing a committee always comes with its challenges and never has that been truer than this year.

For smaller sports, such as Korfball, recruitment is a big concern. The freshers’ fair for these sports is always crucial as it is a chance to entice people and intrigue them with your sport’s funny name. Because it is so crucial, knowing the format of the virtual freshers’ fair is a big relief.

Integral to a virtual freshers’ fair is having an engaging social media profile. The committee has made sure that all this is up to date and as appealing as possible. There is also plan in place in case recruitment numbers drop.

In addition to trying to attract new members, it is important to keep previous members happy, especially given that things will look so different to last year. Existing players are the reason the club is still running, so it must be clear what to expect from the coming year.

A key part of planning for next year has been meeting with the Sport, Excercise and Health (SEH) development team in order to make things as safe as possible. The meetings have been vital as a way of bouncing ideas off people who are not on the committee.

Through these conversations, we have outlined a best-case, medium-case, and worst-case scenario plans. Hopefully, it will not come to that, but these plans will be key in managing members’ expectations.

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One way to mitigate the different and tough times ahead is by forging deeper connections with the nearest university clubs: Exeter and Cardiff.

Using these connections, we hope to collaborate and feedback between clubs on what works and what does not.

The most significant issue with socially distanced Korfball is that it is not possible to play matches. The defending rule (perhaps the most important rule of the game) relies on a defender being close enough to touch you… which isn’t very Coronavirus friendly.

Defending in Korfball relies on being within arm's length of the attacker | 

Due to this, the basics of Korfball are making a return and there will be a greater emphasis on skills rather than match play.

It is still possible to practice shooting in small groups and this will make up the bulk of sessions. However, we are brainstorming defensive drills that will allow for social distancing (we might even keep some of them once normal play resumes).

Perhaps to the dismay of some members, a skill-based approach means more focus on fitness.

There will be a greater emphasis on skills rather than attacking play

During the lockdown period our coaching team ran Zoom fitness sessions twice a week. Unfortunately, for those less enamoured with fitness, the sessions look like they might be here to stay.

There is, however, a positive to virtual workouts. They allow for more flexible timing and – fingers crossed – training at 7am could be a thing of the past.

Another notable change to training this year is that for the moment we plan to train outside, subject to the mercy of Bristol’s weather. Although, as winter draws in, the Downs will certainly become a less appealing place to train. This will present further challenges to the coaching team.

The final part of our skills-based approach hopes to cement a variety of new skills, mostly refereeing and coaching, within the club. Skills like this are an investment in the future of Bristol University Korfball.

Whilst the playing side of Korfball is integral to the sport, so is the social side. This is especially important as it is vital to maintaining the welcoming environment of the club.

Thankfully for everyone who enjoys a good social, we had plenty of practice at the end of last year with Zoom socials. Like fitness sessions, virtual socials like these will be here for a while, and the social secretaries are coming up with new ways to keep them fresh.

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Undeniably this year will be difficult and different for Korfball. However, it forces people to take a step back and review how best to train, which can allow a totally new perspective.

It may not be the year many of us expected, but there are some small silver-linings and hopes that next year can still be a success.

Featured: University of Bristol Korfball

How will your team be adapting to the virtual freshers’ fair?