Chinese Taipei's reign continues

KIRTI PATIL

IF you are not good at any other sport, take a refuge in korfball. A sport that is a mix between basketball and handball is certainly not a native game, nor an Olympic discipline. Still, India has held one World Championship, in 1995, if one bothers to remember.

The victorious Chinese Taipei team.-SANDEEP SAXENA

Korfball turns 100 next year - long enough innings for a sport to spread its roots and generate interest. The sport surely has failed on more than one count, for it struggles to find a place even in the regional games... Olympics should be the dream.

Nonetheless, for a pastime, korfball is a good option as men and women play together. In India, korfball has been just another source for those governing the sport to wield their vote. A few foreign trips during the international competitions come as a bonus.

Whether Indian sportspersons should actually spend their time and energy for a sport that was unlikely to get patronage from the government and support of the people, despite its 'lively' outlook, was a matter for introspection.

Just as in the powerlifting, korfball features 'drop outs' from the mother sport. As the mediocre and over-the-hill weightlifters cross over to powerlifting, korfball provides refuge to former hoopsters.

"Ours is a game of this century. We have applied to the International Olympic Committee for its inclusion in the Olympic Games," says M. C. Gupta, who doubles up as the President of the Korfball Federation of India (KFI) and the Asia-Oceania Korfball Federation.

The reality bites. After the Sydney experience, the IOC has been serious about pruning the current number of disciplines in the Olympic Games - for it has realised that organising Olympics has become a herculean task not all nations could handle as nicely as Australia did.

What has korfball achieved over the last century - six World Championships and following in 40-odd countries yet nowhere the sport is a passion.

To celebrate the centenary of korfball, the 7th World Championship is being organised next year in the Netherlands, the country where the game originated. The Dutch had won all the time and their feat has been emulated by Chinese Taipei, in the Asia-Oceania region.

At the 5th Asia-Oceania korfball championship in New Delhi, Chinese Taipei extended its reign over the game with a dominating performance, throughout the four-day event. Only Australia could match Chinese Taipei to some extent as the two teams dished out fascinating korfball when they met in the league. Hong Kong and Japan were the other teams in the fray besides the host India.

Ranked number three in the world, the team from Chinese Taipei meant business. In a tournament played on the league basis, Chinese Taipei asserted its supremacy with comfortable wins, except against the Australians. While the Asian province dominated the proceedings early on, Australia rallied brilliantly in the second half but Chinese Taipei was a step ahead in all respects.

Captain Huang Ching-Hung's aggressive tactics, short and quick passes, and the ability of his team members to score on long baskets separated Chinese Taipei from the rest.

Australia, on the other hand, was here just to make sure it qualified for the 2003 World Championship. For a sport which has eight players in a side, it came here with just nine members. Australia won its first three matches without much of a sweat and ensured itself a trip to Holland.

As for India, it started with a morale boosting win against Japan, but then it fell apart.

The host lost two successive matches, to Chinese Taipei and Australia, and fell out of contention. India defeated Hong Kong in its last league match and finished third, as it had done in the 2001 Hong Kong championship.

The results:

Australia 23 (Brenton Johnston 6, Dennis Giles 5, Jeremy Harris 4, Vanessa Braithwaite 3, Megan O'Kaffe 3, Jessica May 2) beat Hong Kong 6 (Cheng Chi Yung 2, Lau Pui Shan, Yeung Kwok Wing, Lo King Chu, Tang Ying Yeung).

India 16 (Rajesh Saini 6, Amit Chhabra 6, Renu 2, Reena 2) beat Japan 12 (Nabekura Atuko 4, Ito Toshiko 3, Takahashi Toshinori 2, Miura Hiroko, Kato Miyuki, Sakamoto Akira).

Australia 18 (Brenton Johnston 3, Megan O'Keefe 3, Dennis Giles 3, Jeremy Harris 3, Vanessa Braithwaite 3, Jessica May 2, Lure Rosie) beat Japan 5 (Sakamoto, Takahashi Toshinori, Kato Miyuki, Ito Toshiko, Nabekura Atsuko).

Chinese Taipei 27 (Pai Sheng-Wen 6, Li Yuan-Fu 5, Hsu Hsin-Fu 4, Chao Yen-Ling 3, Chen Wen-Fai 3, Yang Chih-Han 2, Chao Hsiang-Ju, Hsu Chien-Feng, Lin Shin Chien, Hung Hsiu-Ting) beat Hong Kong 4 (Chan Tung Yan 2, Law King Chu, Tang Yin Tueng).

Australia 30 (Dennis Giles 9, Megan O'Keefe 8, Jeremy Harris 4, Jessica May 3, Vanessa Braithwaite 2, Lesley Phillips 2, Brenton Johnston, Paul Bothwick) beat India 13 (Rajesh Saini 6, Sandhya 2, Lalit 2, Raj Kumar 2, Amit Chhabra).

Hong Kong 18 (Lu King-Chu 5, Cheng Chi-Yang 4, Tang Yin-Yeung 2, Yeung Kuek-Wing 2, Lee Wing-Sze, Kan Wei-Lin, Ip Hei-Yee, Lau Pui-Shen, Chan Teng-Yan) beat Japan 9 (Takahashi Toshinori 3, Ito Toshiko 2, Miura Hiroko 2, Akira Sakamoto 2).

Chinese Taipei 23 (Hung Hsiu-Ting 7, Li Yuan-Fu 5, Li Rung-Kai 3, Chen Yen-Young 2, Lee Chien-Yi, Huang Chen-Yi, Huang Chin-Hung, Chao Hsiang-Ju, Pai Sheng-Wen, Hsu Chien-Feng) beat India 13 (Raj Kumar 4, Rajesh Saini 4, Anil Sharma 2, Sonu, Sandhya, Ravi Sharma).

Chinese Taipei 21 (Chao Yen-Ling 5, Li Rung-Kai 4, Li Yuan-Fu 4, Pai Sheng-Wen 2, Hsu Hsin-Fu 2, Huang Chin-Hung 2, Lee Chien-Yi, Chen Wen-Fai) beat Japan 4 (Nabekura Atuko, Ito Toshiko, Takahashi Toshinori, Kumagai Katuaki).

Chinese Taipei 18 (Lin Shin Chien 4, Hung Hsiu-Ting 3, Huang Ching-Hung 3, Chen Wen-Fai 2, Hsu Chien-Feng 2, Huang Chen-Yi 2, Tsao Wan-Ju, Yang Chih-Han) beat Australia 14 (Dennis Giles 5, Megan O'Keefe 4, Brenton Johnston 3, Jessica May 2).

India 17 (Rajesh Saini 5, Raj Kumar 4, Amit Chhabra 3, Lalit 2, Reena, Sandhya, Renu) beat Hong Kong 13 (Law King Chu 6, Cheng Chi Yung 3, Kan Wai Hin Jay, Tang Yin Tueng, Yeung Kwok Wing, Chan Tung Yan).

Final standings (read as matches played, won, lost, goals for, goals against and points): 1. Chinese Taipei 4-4-0-89-35-8; 2. Australia 4-3-1-85-42-6; 3. India 4-2-2-59-78-4; 4. Hong Kong 4-1-3-41-76-2; 5. Japan 4-0-4-30-73-0.