Newcomers qualified for the World Championships: “We sa feti gi Sranang”
Last year, Suriname Korfball Federation was accepted as member of the International Korfball Federation. This year they were undefeated at the Pan American Championships, and have therefore qualified for the 2019 World Championships to be played in South Africa. They are our Team of March 2018!
At just under 165,000 km², Suriname is the smallest country in South America. It is a former Dutch colony that became independent in 1975. While Suriname is considered to be a Caribbean country culturally, the official language of the country is still Dutch. Sranan, an English-based creole language, is a widely used lingua franca.
Korfball had been played for many years in Suriname until the mid-eighties, but after that it had largely disappeared. The new Suriname Korfball Federation now plans to collaborate with the Suriname Ministry of Sports to develop Korfball at schools with a special school Korfball programme. For now, the current National Team of Suriname consists of players that are active in the Dutch competition. A huge community of Suriname people live in the Netherlands, and they are proud of their roots and feel very much connected with Suriname.
Sharvien Sahai, Secretary of the Surinaamse Korfbal Federatie and a player in the national Korfball team of Suriname, is very happy to hear about the selection:
“What great news that you have picked the national Korfball team of Suriname as Team of the Month. We feel really honoured. Thank you!”
- I understand that you, like most/all players in the team, live in the Netherlands. What does it mean to you to represent Suriname in tournaments?
That’s correct. We all live in the Netherlands, but all the players have Suriname roots. Some players were born in Suriname (like myself) and all the other players have parents that were born in Suriname. Suriname was a former colony of The Netherlands, and because of this history it makes sense that lots of people of Suriname decided to move to The Netherlands. It means a lot to represent Suriname in tournaments. We all feel connected to Suriname, and although we don’t live there anymore, most of us still have families over there and we would like to do something for Suriname. In this case we can bring success to Suriname through sport, and put Suriname on the global map in a positive way. We feel honoured and proud that the Suriname embassy and government support us.
- What was the goal in the beginning when establishing the Suriname federation and team?
The goal is to re-introduce Korfball in Suriname. In the past, Korfball was played a lot in Suriname, but gradually it died out. We would like to start again and show that Korfball is a unique, exciting sport with gender equality. All success, like winning the Pan American Korfball Championships 2018, helps to show what a great sport Korfball is and that Suriname is good at it. It would be great to introduce Korfball in primary school education; we have already had discussions with the Suriname embassy and government about this.
- How far do you think Suriname can go in the next World Championships? Is a medal possible?
That’s difficult to say. We are newcomers to the World Championships, so I think it would be great to show everyone what Suriname is made of. A medal would be awesome, but I think we can be proud if we can join the top 6. We always say before a match start: “We sa feti gi Sranang”, which means that we will fight for Suriname, and that’s exactly what our intention is. Of course we won’t forget the other countries at the IKF Pan American Championships who won’t join the World Championships, like Brazil, Columbia, Argentina and Costa Rica, and we would also like to give a good performance for them.
- How is or will the sport be promoted in Suriname?
Because we have a good relationship with the Suriname government, we get a lot of media attention (TV, internet, radio, newspapers) in Suriname. But also in The Netherlands, i.e. within the Surinamese community, a lot of attention is given to the national Korfball team of Suriname. Last year a deputy of our board, Surinaamse Korfbal Federatie, visited Suriname to do some business. We would like to go to Suriname to discuss a plan to re-introduce Korfball in primary school education in Suriname.
- The World Games 2021 will be organised in Birmingham, Alabama. Is it your goal to have Suriname play at The World Games?
This is something we have not considered yet, but my personal opinion is that it would be great to participate at The World Games in 2021! However we mustn’t forget that we still have a long way to go, and step by step we’ll try to re-introduce Korfball in Suriname. The World Games would definitely give a boost to this re-introduction!