Suriname’s unique journey built on love and bold ambition
Suriname’s journey to the IKF World Korfball Championship 2019 has been unique, and the team’s progress will be closely watched by everyone interested in international korfball.
Suriname was an IKF member in the past, though never attended a WKC, and after korfball in the small South American republic dwindled to nothing about 20 years ago, the country’s formal membership of the international korfball community was discontinued. That changed a few years ago, when several Dutch korfballers with Surinamese heritage started talking to each other. Ivan Karsters was one of that group, which also included Sharvien Sahai and Gerald van Dijk. What started then will take the three of them and the squad they have built to South Africa, as Ivan explains.
“Sharvien and I took a trip to Suriname to talk with the government about our plans, seeking approval to play under our flag, to create the federation and set up a team. We started the federation for love of our country. Our long term goal is to bring korfball back to Suriname,” he says.
To reach that goal, they recruited a team, drawing on korfball players living in the north, west and south of the Netherlands.
“Some are born in Suriname and others have Surinamese roots from their parents or grandparents. We all grew up in the Netherlands and have all played korfball for many years in the Dutch competition.
“Gerald van Dijk and Nisha Verwey both enjoyed success playing at the highest level. Gerald represented the Netherlands in international korfball, and scored more than 1000 goals in his Korfball League career. He recently announced he will return to AKC Blauw-wit next season. Several of the rest of us have also played in the Korfball League, while the other members of our squad play at just below that level,” says Ivan.
From initially setting up the team, the Suriname players crowd funded and used their own resources to travel to Cali, Colombia and compete in the IKF Pan American Korfball Championship last year. With Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and Dominican Republic also striving for the prize in Cali, Suriname defeated them all to claim qualification to the IKF WKC 2019. Victory also won Suriname recognition as the World Games Team of the Month for March 2018.
In December 2018, Suriname participated in the Korfball Challenge, in Rotterdam, performing credibly against top Korfball League and international teams. Their preparations have continued in the Netherlands through to the eve of the IKF WKC.
Among plenty of leaders in the squad, Suriname captain on the field is Randell van der Steen.
“He always has that fighting spirit, just like I do,” says Ivan, who, at 36 is the oldest in the team, and one of the oldest at the WKC.
After providing much of the motivation to establish the youngest national federation at this tournament, Ivan is looking forward to showing the korfball world what Suriname can do in Durban, which will mark the end of his playing career.
“Although there have been many ups and downs to reach this point, I am happy that the first steps have been taken and we are well on the way to our long term goal of bringing korfball back to Suriname. Our results are important to make this plan a success.
“We started the federation for love of our country. While we are a family and play with respect, we also have heart and a fighter’s mentality. We are the first national team in Suriname’s history to make it to a world championship, in any sport, ever. We want to show the power we give each other on and off the field. We are here and we will show the world that Suriname is a serious contender.
“Our main goal at the WKC is to qualify for the World Games 2021. We want to make our country proud. We would really like to leave Durban with a medal around our necks,” he says.
#TeamSUR IKF WKC 2019
1: Jaleesa Claver
2: Isaura Hilgen
3: Shera Desaunois
4: Susila De Klein
5: Nisha Verwey
6: Michelle Brouwer
7: Dominique Van Der Stelt
8: Stephanie Brewster
9: Vikash Mahadew Missier
10: Wayne Stienstra
11: Vladimir Slot
12: Sharvien Sahai
13: Gerald Van Dijk
14: Ivan Karsters
15: Randell Van Der Steen
16: Ariën Van Den Berg
Coach: Dico Dik
Manager: Albert Nijenhuis
Officials: Robert Luttik, Theo Rouffaer