Bright future for korfball in Hong Kong, says Sport Minister at AOKC opening

“There is a bright future for korfball in Hong Kong”, Jonathan McKinley, Deputy Secretary of Home Affairs of the Government of the Hong Kong SAR – the equivalent of Sport Minister in other countries – said at the opening ceremony of the 9th IKF Asia-Oceania Korfball Championship. Kinley added that Hong Kong residents like new sports, and the mixed gender spirit of the game very much matches Hong Kong’s society.

Growth of korfball in the island territory has been remarkable, with the majority of universities playing korfball, a domestic korfball league and regular tournaments and championships in all age categories, both indoor, outdoor, and on the beach. With the hosting the AOKC this year, the Association aims to reach the general public to make a next step in korfball”s popularity.

McKinley addressed the participants of the Championship and welcomed them to Hong Kong as part of an opening ceremony in which also the IKF President took part, along with the Presidents of IKF Asia and IKF Oceania, and the IKF Secretary General. The guests were welcomed into the venue by traditional bag pipe music.

In the successive opening match of the tournament, the home team beat Korea by a clear margin.


Champion Chinese Taipei will be tough to beat at IKF AOKC

Asia-Oceania champion Chinese Taipei has arrived in Hong Kong with an experienced and well-prepared squad determined to defend its title at the IKF AOKC.

chinese taipei 2014

In camp at home for the past 11 days, the squad includes Ricky Wu, aptly nick-named the ‘Asian Sensation’ during his years in the Korfball League in the Netherlands. Along with nine of his colleagues in the present IKF AOKC 2014 squad, Ricky won a bronze medal at the 2013 World Games, or at the 2011 IKF World Championship, or both. Members of this ‘golden generation’ of Chinese Taipei korfball have been playing the sport for an average of around eight years.

Residents of Taipei City, New Taipei City, Taoyuan county and Nantou county, the final squad of 16 was named in July following a process that began in October last year when an initial selection of 22 players was named after two national tournaments in October.

Most of the Chinese Taipei national team players were originally recruited to school korfball teams when they were studying in primary or junior high schools. Most are now university students, although some are primary or high school teachers.

IKF AOKC 2014 an important step for Malaysian korfball

This year’s tournament in Hong Kong is the first time Malaysia will participate in the IKF AOKC, following its representation at the equivalent youth tournament in 2011 in Adelaide and the IKF Asian Korfball Championship last year.

Malaysia Korfball Team Group Photo

Like many other international korfballers, Malaysia’s national players have overcome financial challenges to represent their country. Korfball his not officially recognised by the Ministry of Sport and Youth and the Sport Council of Malaysia. Players are therefore left to raise their own funds, through savings, sponsorship and loans from family and friends.

Technically, Malaysia has benefited from the assistance of Chinese Taipei korfball maestro and President of IKF Asia Inglish Huang, who visited for a five-day training camp in June, adding to Malaysia’s eight month programme.

Ranging in age from 16 to 30 years old, Malaysia’s korfballers are based in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. All shifted to korfball from basketball, encouraged by their coaches and senior team mates Wai-Fun Lau Yuet-Ngor Chew and Wai-Sim Lau, who also have basketball backgrounds.

The 2014 IKF AOKC will be a springboard for the country’s development, as Malaysian Korfball Association president Jungle Lim Chee Yong explains:

“These players will be Malaysian korfball’s leaders, team managers, coaches, referees, trainers, promoters, supporters, sponsors and others in the future. They are going to help train young and talented children to become high performance korfballers.

“Our vision is to introduce, develop and promote korfball to Malaysia’s multi race society, including Malay, Indian, Chinese, Iban, Kadazan, Murud, Bajau, Mah Meri, Temuan and others.”

Korea looks for progress at IKF AOKC

Participating at this year’s IKF Asia Oceania Korfball Championship (IKF AOKC) gives the Korea Korfball Federation (KKF) great impetus for further development of the sport.

Korea team for IKF AOKC 2014

Korea finished sixth at last October’s Asia Korfball Championships in Tianjin, China, and currently sits at 31 in the IKF rankings.

Taking the three-hour flight from Seoul to Hong Kong for the ninth IKF Asia Oceania Korfball Championship, this will be Korea’s second time at the tournament after finishing seventh four years ago.

Since starting their preparation in March, squad members have trained once or twice a week.

Members of Korea’s squad come from diverse backgrounds, including in their number teachers, students and soldiers. One of the latter had to ask for special permission to exempt himself from a joint training exercise between the armies of the United States and Korea in order to travel with the squad to Hong Kong.

Most of Korea’s players started korfball as students of Seoul National University of Korea, when the sport was introduced by their sister university, National Taiwan University of Education, in 2005, with the most experienced of Korea’s international players starting korfball in earnest in 2006.

This squad is an important step in the development of Korean korfball, with a number of the players either trainee teachers or recent graduates who have started their teaching careers. As in various other countries, this makes them ideally placed to spread korfball and build its popularity through schools and universities, which they are in the process of doing, bringing increasing numbers of younger people into the sport through school korfball clubs and tournaments.

New Zealand ready for IKF AOKC

New Zealand’s team for the 2014 IKF Asia Oceania Korfball Championship (IKF AOKC) is ready for competition and will attempt to be the first from their country to qualify for a korfball World Championship.

NZ team in training game

Unofficially calling themselves The Korus, which refers to the shape of the native fern frond that is on the Korfball New Zealand logo, the team has the furthest journey of all teams to reach Hong Kong, even further than their neighbour Australia.

Most of the players in The Korus have at least four years korfball experience, which is more than previous times that New Zealand has played at international level. Ten of the members of the squad have attended international korfball tournaments before.

New Zealand’s chances have been boosted by the return of senior players Bevan Lawson and Rosa Cooper, who both spent extended periods in the Netherlands over the past 12 months, where they trained and developed their game with leading club DOS ’46. Their ranks are also boosted by ‘secret agent’ Carl Chung, who was born in Auckland but moved to Hong Kong when he was young, starting his korfball career there aged 15, before moving back to New Zealand at age 18.

New Zealand is coached by Mark Garrett, who was assistant coach of the Australian team that reached that country’s highest korfball peak with fourth place in the 1995 World Championships. Mark is still based in South Australia and has commuted monthly to run weekend-long training camps in New Zealand since September 2013.

Eight of The Korus live in Christchurch, which is still recovering from a series of major earthquakes that devastated the city four years ago. Although many sports facilities were damaged or destroyed, korfball activity has continued in Christchurch, and with new sports facilities promised as the city is rebuilt, is set to enjoy further growth.

The Korus’ team blog is here:

Australia announces national squad for AOKC

Korfball Australia has officially announced the composition of their national team for the Asia-Oceania Korfball Championship, due to be held from 17-23 August in Hong Kong. Australia, ranked second in the region, will definitely try winning the title, though regional number 1 Chinese Taipei is the clear favorite.

aus team aokc 2014

At the team photo, we can see (Back left to right) Phil Sibbons (coach), Adam Robertson, Dan Phillips, Craig Miller, Andrew Hutchesson, Josh Berney, Sam Wetherall, Patrick Branford, Jeremy Harris (Assistant Coach); (front row) Kia Rogers, Ashlee Othen, Jess Crispe, Jess Phillips, Theresa Coletti, Emily Hutchesson, Megan Marks, Jess May.

According to korfball Australia, the national team has trained in separate sessions in addition to the club training sessions. There have been training camps every 3-4 weeks on the weekend. Personal fitness, gym sessions and shooting practice of varied intensity appropriate to individual needs have been going for about 5 months.

Korfball Australia’s team have raised approximately AU$6500 through cake stalls, BBQ and a dinner. There is still the personal sacrifice of approximately AU$2600 per player for flights,accommodation and meals in Hong Kong and uniform.

Source: Korfball Australia newsletter 3 August 2014