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Lancaster korfball coach wins prestigious award

Andrew Barnes, a Lancaster-based korfball coach, has been awarded the prestigious Frank Sieber Youth Korfball Award by England Korfball.

The award was made at the England Korfball Grand Finals weekend in Norwich earlier this month.

Korfball is a uniquely mixed-gender team sport, developed at the same time as basketball and netball, but designed by a Dutch school teacher so that school children could all play together. It has been played since around 1900 and started being playing in England after the second world war. These values of equality are at the heart of the sport which has been gaining ground in the Lancaster area since 2017.

Andrew is a primary school teacher, but since moving to Lancaster, focused his efforts on coaching korfball, initially through the Lancaster Community Sports Hub, and more recently through Lancaster Phoenix Korfball Club, which he set up with his partner, Ellen, on moving to the area in 2016.

‘‘I am honoured to receive this award, especially because it was created in memory of Frank Sieber who did so much for youth korfball and was so supportive of the development of korfball in the north,’’ said Andrew.

‘’I feel privileged to work with our junior players and see them develop, both as korfballers and people.’’

A local parent, Sharon Ashcroft from Hala, nominated Andrew for the award, with support from junior players and local school teachers.

Sharon said: ‘‘Until Andy’s arrival in Lancaster 6 years ago, korfball was a sport unknown to the majority of young people. Over the course of the past years, Andy has been instrumental in changing this, building youth korfball in the North West of England from a grass roots level.

‘’From training a handful of sporadically attending young people in a community sports hub in the early years, Andy has progressed to coaching weekly… youth training sessions, now with two age categories.

‘’Those of us lucky enough to have had children coached by Andy since primary school are now seeing them progress into the older youth category and into the adult leagues with Lancaster Phoenix Korfball club.’

Andrew has worked with nearly 40 local primary schools to run korfball after-school clubs and curriculum sessions, and provide regular schools tournaments for Key Stage Two children and competitions as part of the Schools Sports Network.

Mark Cheal, Moorside Primary School sports lead, said: ‘‘Andy is an amazing coach and his school-based Korfball sessions are consistently wonderfully planned, progressive and engaging for the children. Andy explains to all children the basic skills required to access the game, as well as identifying talented youngsters and offering them the opportunities to play at a higher level, through the accessing of national competitions.

‘’Listening to Andy deliver instructions, ideas and tactics has had a positive impact on my own coaching style and I've looked to emulate this throughout my own coaching, noticing a different atmosphere in teams inspired through calmness as well as the ever -important drive to compete and to win.’

The nomination was supported by junior players, some of whom have played at school and regional youth level, and are now playing for Lancaster Phoenix’s adult teams.

One of the, 14-year-old Freya, said: ‘’I joined the after-school korfball club in year 3 and have loved the sport ever since! I have played in Harrow for the North West a number of times and I train every week with the Lancaster youth and adult teams.

‘’What I like about Andy is the way he explains things so clearly and patiently; he makes it clear where I can progress without getting frustrated when I make mistakes. I even travelled to korfball camp in Norfolk last year because of Andy’s coaching and I can’t wait to go back again this year!’'

Corin, who is 15, added: ‘’I started korfball in primary school after school club and loved the competitions organised by Andy against other schools.

‘’I have progressed through the youth stages of the sport over the past few years to play for the adult Lancaster Phoenix first team. I also coach korfball at my former primary school as a volunteer; it is great to give something back to Andy and give others the support he gave me.’’

Korfball is played in mixed-gender teams, where goals are scored by throwing the ball through a basket., or korf. The korf (which means basket in Dutch) is 3.5m high in an adult game. This is higher than a basketball net, and it has no back-board. All players do all roles – both defence and attack – and everyone has the chance to score.

Lancaster Phoenix Korfball club runs junior sessions for children aged 7-15 between 5-6pm on Wednesdays at Royal Lancaster Grammar School, with adult training afterwards 6-7pm.

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