Korfball Australia regrets to announce that the Australian Under 23 team has had to be withdrawn from the upcoming Under 23 World Korfball Championships, scheduled to be held in Olomouc, Czech Republic, in July. This decision is not one which has been arrived at lightly, however, the lack of an active player base able to commit to the Championships, and the required training and travel attached to playing in a tournament of this nature, as well as the associated lack of financial resources, has made it impossible to make any other decision.
Our focus must now move to the World Games in 2017, which Australia has already qualified for, and more importantly, the yet to be announced Under 21 Asia-Oceania Championships, and any subsequent tournaments qualified for based on results at that tournament, in order to make sure that this situation does not repeat itself. It is important to note that the Under 21 age bracket is replacing the Under 23 tournament cycle. The future is looking bright, with the emergence of University Clubs joining existing competitions, as well as new areas being exposed to Korfball, namely Newcastle and the Gold Coast. The University Clubs are of particular interest, as many new recruits from Universities will fall under the Under 21 age bracket. It is hoped that some of the newer areas mentioned above, as well as other established regions, will be able to tap into other Universities and High Schools in their area in order to continue to build the number of age group players participating regularly.
The current situation is extremely problematic, and we need to work with all stakeholders to ensure that this does not happen again. While there is a bright future for Korfball in Australia, and for Australia in international competition, it won’t happen without a concerted effort to grow the sport, both in terms of geography and player base.