February 4, 2016
By: Michael Patalano 

Korfball

It’s common sight to see people on the court in O’Keefe gymnasium cheering joyfully as players pass and shoot in a frenzy. However, on the afternoon  of Sunday, January 31st, this activity took on another nature. On the wings of a visit from several 3rd year sports marketing students from the University of Roterdam, students who ventured to the gym were treated to a cultural exchange in the form of Salem States annual Korfball/Basketball clinic.

The program was facilitated by Salem State SMS professor Michele Sweeney, who described the event as a “festival of culture”. Over the course of the clinic, students engaged in an hour and a half of Korfball and then the same for basketball, giving this diverse group of people an opportunity to bridge cultural barriers through sport and friendly banter.

For the Students from the University of Rotterdam, this day was an integral part of a 3 week signature trip to Boston and New York City. Their stop at Salem State would be their only visit to a U.S. university. Among this student body was Panagos Iliadus, who plays for the Greek national korfball team. “This trip is incredible;I have never been to the United States and am very excited to see as much as I can,” Iliadus said of the trip.  He also described the grind of a korfball season as very intense and variable, with part of the season being played outdoors before and after the winter forces it inside.

korfball net

One thing that is especially unique about korfball is the game is played by both sexes. A korfball team typically fields eight players, four females and four males. Opposing players pair up intending to create adequate space to shoot the ball into an 11.5 foot korf. From a gameplay perspective, the sport is similar to a combination of ultimate frisbee and basketball.

Salem State students who were able to come out and play were treated to an amazing afternoon, but the fun does not have to stop here. Professor Sweeney is hoping to create a korfball club at SSU. This program would follow the trend set by many schools, including Hamilton College and Hope College in expanding korfball in the United States. The U.S. will be hosting an international korfball tournament in Atlanta in 2018, so now seems as good a time as ever for athletes and enthusiasts to give it a try. For further information contact feel free to contact professor Sweeney at michele.sweeney@salemstate.edu.

Contributor’s Note: Michael Patalano loves basketball and his favorite team is the Celtics.