‘We pride ourselves on welcoming everyone at the club’: An interview with korfball society

‘For those who have played a team sport before, there is no denying the immense benefits it brings’

If the idea of committing to a sports club on campus while simultaneously trying to tackle mounting piles of uni work already seems overwhelming to you, then you can only imagine the difficulties that arise when a national lockdown gets thrown into the mix. Lancaster University Korfball Club have shown that while coordinating team sports during a pandemic may seem counter-intuitive, it’s by no means impossible. What’s more? It’s actually a lot of fun and provides a great outlet for improving fitness, mental health and overall wellbeing.

Champions of inclusivity and diversity, this club prides itself on welcoming everyone. They are fully-inclusive regarding both the physical and social sides of the club; their adoption of the All-In initiative cements this, founded (but unfortunately not adopted) by the Students’ Union. Although it might seem like a lifetime ago, we wanted to know what life was like for LUKC before lockdown and how they plan to grow in the future.

“We participate in tournaments all over the country and two international tournaments every year”

In an ordinary week, before introducing any social-distancing measures, Lancaster University Korfball Club would train twice a week in the sports hall, Monday afternoon and Wednesday morning. The focus on fitness and team spirit didn’t end there; the club said: “We would follow these sessions with post-training activities. On Monday evening, we would attend Fylde Bar; on Wednesday morning, the team would have breakfast together at County Diner.

“Korfball also competes in the North West Korfball League. Our league games take place every weekend in and around the North-West. Alongside this, we enter our teams into BUCS every year. Lastly, we participate in tournaments all over the country and two international tournaments every year.”

“The classic Wednesday night in Sugar, a visit to the trampoline park, a Christmas meal at the Toby Carvery…”

Socials are hosted every other week, including a mixture of sober and drinking activities. The club went on to describe their extensive list of past socials, including: “The classic Wednesday night in Sugar, a visit to the trampoline park, a Christmas meal at the Toby Carvery and a korfball family games night.”

They finish the year with a bang by hosting a summer social described as “a day-long social filled with games, food and activities.” This is coupled with an awards evening to “celebrate the achievements of their players.” They use the sunny weather at the end of the term by playing beach korfball with other universities.

“As a substitution for training, we host workout sessions twice a week on Zoom”

The club has made a conscious effort to maintain as much engagement with members as possible over lockdown. Their weekly Zoom workout sessions include “themed sessions such as ABBA Night and other workouts such as yoga.”

They said: “On the social side, we have maintained our biweekly social events, but these are happening on Zoom. They have proved to be successful. We enjoy a high turnout every other week. Some of our themes have included games night, baby social and the traditional lockdown quizzes. We keep regular communication with our members through the use of our group chats and media pages. Specifically, we try and keep interaction by introducing Instagram takeovers and Q&As.”

In the first lockdown, the club hosted a charity fundraiser for CancerCare in Lancaster. They explained what this entailed: “As a club, we exercised individually at home, running, walking and cycling over 2000 miles. We introduced welfare officers within the club, in which we selected 2 individuals to ensure the wellbeing and health of our members during the lockdown.”

“We keep regular contact with our korfball alumni; this is a mutually beneficial relationship”

The self-described “fully inclusive society” is open to everyone who wants to join them and keep fit or enjoy the club’s social aspects. This is greatly due to their adoption of the “All-In initiative” as well as their “Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policy.” Also, their chairperson is currently working with the Out in the Bay charity in Morecombe to “develop and implement a non-binary inclusion person policy to ensure that no person faces barriers to our sport and club as a result of their identity.”

The club continued: “We are also working with the VP Welfare on the LGBTQ+ History Month to contribute with ideas and projects you will see online or in the library through various members of our Exec.

“Also, we are working with the national, regional and student governing bodies for korfball to improve communication and representation. We currently work with three charity organisations local to Lancaster; these include CancerCare, Out in the Bay and Lancaster Community Sports Hub.”

This club is equally passionate about maintaining relationships with the past, present and future club members. Alumni are invited back to their Fresher’s Tournament they normally host at the start of every year.

“We believe it is vital to educate ourselves and celebrate individuals that make our club what it is”

LUKC often use their Instagram page as a platform to educate others. In the past, they have written feature posts on Rainbow Laces Day, Autism Awareness Week, World Down Syndrome Day and Mental Health Awareness. They see fitness as an all-encompassing word: “From a health perspective, we train and improve fitness. As a result, this includes mental health and overall well-being.

“For those who have played a team sport before, there is no denying the immense benefits it brings. Most importantly, you develop amazing relationships with your teammates. This links to our club’s social aspect; it is a great way to make friends and improve your university experience.

“Everyone who first joins korfball starts at the same level, most people have not played the sport before, so this brings advantages. Everyone learns and improves together; it is amazing how quickly our players pick up the sport.”

“As a club, we pay for our second team to have the same privileges”

The university supports the club by giving them a small amount of funding each year to help set up the club, so they are ready for each season. Korfball has a Lancaster sport plus membership. This gives us priority on minibuses and the use of the sports hall for training. We also get a free BUCS kit from them.

The club explained that more support is needed through additional funding: “Currently, the funding we receive only covers our first team entry fees for BUCS and travel. As a club, we pay for our second team to have the same privileges. This way, everyone can be included and play the same amount of korfball. This takes a toll on our finances, meaning we have less money for other things.”

They believe that more representation in terms of getting korfball out there: “There is only so much as a club we can do ourselves. We face problems that netball and basketball do not have, as we are not widely known, more support from the university would be useful to recruit more members to the club.”

To keep up to date with events, fixtures, fundraising, and find more details about joining the Lancaster University Korfball Club, follow their Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages.

Related articles recommended by this writer:

Equality, education and striving for change: An interview with Lancaster Marxist society

Raising awareness about the refugee crisis: An interview with ‘SolidariTee’ at Lancs Uni

‘Welfare over wealth, planet over profit’: An interview with Lancs Uni Green Party