On International Women’s Day, it’s fitting we reflect on the contribution women have made to our fantastic sport. Not only would we not have this sport if not for the equal role women play in Korfball, both in an on-court role and participation numbers, the sport in Australia is indebted to several women in particular, who have gone above and beyond in organising and administering the sport. One such example is Sharyn Bungey.
The Early Years
Sharyn’s involvement in Korfball stretches back further than she’d probably like to publicly admit, right back to the early days of Korfball in Australia. In fact, Sharyn was a member of the first ever Australian National Korfball Team, in 1984. In a very different era, the Australian team beat France 8-7 to win 7th place. Sharyn was also a member of the 1987 and 1991 World Korfball Championship teams, as well as playing in various other continental and invitational tournaments.
Away from the National Team, Sharyn was also instrumental in helping set up Arista Marion Korfball Club in 1985. Arista is the oldest continuously operating Korfball club in Australia, and the club Sharyn still calls home.
On an administrative level, Sharyn was involved as a member of the board of Korfball Australia (or the Australian Korfball Association, as it was then) from 1989, consistently re-elected as Treasurer year on year.
In some ways, little has changed for Sharyn in the intervening years. Sharyn is once again Treasurer on the board of Korfball Australia, and while her board membership has not been continuous since 1989, her presence and membership has never been far away. Additionally, Sharyn is also Treasurer of Arista, a position she has held at several times throughout her involvement in Korfball.
Sharyn is also still involved with the National Team, although understandably no longer in a playing position. Sharyn has been team manager of the most recent junior team, the U23 team who went to Chinese Taipei in 2015, as well as the two most recent Open National Teams, in Japan 2018 and the 2019 World Championships, in South Africa. In a nice example of Sharyn’s journey in Korfball coming full circle, these teams have all contained at least two (and often all three) of her children.
This is not to say that Sharyn’s playing career in Korfball is done. In fact, far from it, with Sharyn picking up co-MVP honours in last years Korfball South Australia State League, as a playing assistant coach in Arista’s C Grade team. Despite serious knee injuries, and the tragic blow-out of an almost mythical pair of Reebok Pumps a few years ago, Sharyn’s playing and coaching career has been a constant at Arista and the KSA State League, with her number 3 being omnipresent the entire time.
Korfball is indebted to the efforts of Sharyn, and the women like her, who allow Korfball in this country to be as strong as it can be. Without these efforts, this commitment and dedication over sometimes decades, we would not have the amazing sport we all love to play. Thank you Sharyn, and thank you to all women who have contributed in any way, large or small, to the development of our sport in the last 42+ years.
We’d love to hear your stories about women who’ve inspired you within Korfball, or who have helped you in your own journey. Tell us your stories in the comments below, we want everyone to hear the stories of these amazing women.
Sharyn of course is a stand out example of a most valued contributor to the development of korfball in Australia – of both genders. In the 42 years of korfball in Australia it has been always a challenge to get the acceptance of the value of mixed sport and for the equality and equity of women in mixed sport. Some of the key women in this have been Jan and Corrine Garrett and Megan O’Keefe (Marks). There are many more in recent years.
Just as important is the role that Australian women have played in International Korfball especially those mentioned above in also being international managers, coaches and referees. We must of course mention the role of Helen Searle in the development of korfball in Australia and internationally. There are so many positives including that she was our most successful Australian coach taking us to fourth place in the IKF World Championships and on her role on the International Korfball Federation Executive especially related to developing equality and equity for women in worldwide korfball.
Without mentioning names there have been as many men in korfball supporting our girls and women. But the challenge is still there to ensure that women have an equal chance to meet their aspirations in korfball and for its acceptance in the broader sports community as a sport for equality of opportunities and equity in meeting them.