Shaky hands, racing heart, sweaty palms, nausea (bit of an exaggeration here) - this is my big chance to clear the name of something I’m so passionate about: KORFBALL. And well, to clear my name in front of all the people who think I’m crazy in love with a sport that doesn’t exist.
What is korfball? I’d rather not fail a thousandth time explaining it, watch the video.
Why am I crazy about it? Unfortunately, there’s no video about this one.
Let me tell you about my first experience with korfball. In the first year of high school, a couple of kids from the school team came to our PE lesson to introduce us this sport we associated with quidditch. Well, I knew nothing about it, so I had the urge to try it. I went to see what their training is like. I ended up being in a pub with them on a Thursday night, which I found utterly wrong at the time, but I’ve learnt a lot since then...
So I stuck around. From one day to another, I had something I knew I’d never want to let go. I finally belonged somewhere. Going to trainings was a whole new experience. If you have no idea what you’re doing, you have to really focus on it, try to hold on to every new information you get. You have to be there physically and mentally, so you can’t think of anything else. For an hour or so, all my fears and worries were gone. I didn’t have to stress about the essay I had to write or whether that old lady saw me tripping over my own the other day. From that moment on, I always had somewhere to escape. I always had a group of people to hang out with, let it be ice skating or clubbing. They made me laugh, they shared their shampoo and the breaking news about who’s going out with whom. An essential information about korfball is that everyone knows everyone, and no secrets remain secrets. As soon as you go there, you are part of it.
The more involved I got, the more amazed I was by the korfball society as a whole. There is real competitive spirit between some teams, there is a friendly connection between most of them. People still play in their forties or fifties, with their kid cheering on the side or playing in the same team. This is a real family-oriented sport that you can (and want to) do your whole life. You don’t have to give up your studies, or job to do it competitively. And it never becomes just another obligation you have to fulfil. However, there is always the chance to aim for something bigger.
In these short five years I got to visit The Netherlands three times, the Czech Republic twice and Slovakia a couple of times. All for “korf purposes”. Sometimes with my club, sometimes as part of the Hungarian National Team (U19/U23). Sounds appealing, doesn’t it? Let’s be honest, with a sport that is played by a fraction of the number of people playing football or basketball, it is not THAT big of an achievement to get into the national team. But hey, you still get to wear those official tracksuits, jerseys and all, you’re still travelling to a World Cup and you’re still smashing it.
No, you won’t ever be a professional player, who earns a living playing korfball (maybe with an exception to The Netherlands and Belgium where korfball is HUGE). Or at least not for now. A lot of people are working on making korfball more popular. I think that’s great. I also secretly hope they’ll never succeed. I’m dreading to lose this uniqueness that hides in the small community we have.
I had no doubt I want to continue playing in the UK, and I soon found my new team in Chatham. I think it is enough to say I had the first social with them in two weeks where they told me: “You’re part of the family now.”
These are all the reasons I couldn’t care less when someone tells me: “No one cares about this sport only you play.”