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Dwindling trade pushes korfball to adopt plastic hoops

End for 100-year tradion of wicker baskets

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

SCHIJNDEL, the Netherlands - A recent decision by the World Korfball Association has brought an end to a Dutch tradition which is as old as the homegrown sport itself. Wicker baskets will be phased out for official games and replaced by plastic ones.

Korfball was invented in the Netherlands 100 years ago, at a time when wicker was widely used for household items. Like basketball in its original form, players used a wicker basket without a bottom.

Since the 1970s, the wicker weaver craft in the Neth-erlands had fewer and fewer practitioners. Alternatives for the dwindling craft were found in Indonesia, where most of the baskets used in the worldwide korfball sport now are produced. The last Dutch wicker weaver who relied on making korven for a living died recently.

Amsterdam connection

The sport still only has a limited following outside Holland and Belgium, although korfball’s popularity has spread to such countries as South Africa, England and the Czech Republic, all participants in the recent world championships, held in the Netherlands. The game - since the 1950s it also has in an indoor version - was developed by Amsterdam physical education teacher Nico Broekhuysen. Although wicker or ratan baskets still were used in training, plastic baskets are the norm for most games. Unlike the hand-produced wicker variety, the plastic baskets have set measurements and are not susceptible to change because of weather or humidity. The standard size is a 25 centimetres high ‘ring’ with a diameter of 39-41 cm. They are attached to a 3.5 metres high pole, placed 10 metres inside from the ‘goalline’. The playing field measures 40 metres wide and 90 metres long, divided in three equal areas: one each for defense, midfield and offense.


Each team has twelve players: six men and six women, four to each field segment. A goal is scored when the ball goes (from the top) through the basket. After every two goals, the three ‘specialty teams’ advance to the next field segment.

Players are not allowed to step into the next box, nor to dribble or otherwise walk with the ball. The ball also cannot be struck from the hands of an opponent. Pushing, holding and screening will result in a free throw, and blocking or otherwise interfering with an opponent only is allowed by a member of the same sex. A korfball game takes two halves of 45 minutes each.