Korfball practitioners in the country liken themselves to the Buddha. Ready to propagate the faith soon after his Enlightenment, the Buddha started off with a handful of disciples. "Ours is a similar state," said MC Gupta, president, Korfball Federation of India.
The closely-knit community is confident that the sport will emerge from the realms of obscurity, and hopes are pinned on the 9th World Korfball Championship, scheduled to be held at Shaoxing from October 27-November 5. After a disappointing 12th at the last edition in the Czech Republic, the Indian camp, this time on, is eyeing a top-eight finish."Be it the work put into rebound, defence, passing or scoring, this is the best Indian team to take part in a World Cup," said chief coach, Mukesh Khandelwal, before flying out to the Chinese city in the early hours of Tuesday.
Clubbed with defending champions, the Netherlands, Germany and Portugal, the challenges are not lost on the team but the eagerness for improvement is not without reason. A top-10 will land India the chance to compete at the World Games, the ultimate destination for non-Olympic disciplines.
Captain Pardeep Dahiya, 24, is hoping a creditable finish could lead to a transformation at the national level. One of the few strongholds, the Haryana flavour to the team is unmistakable, and Dahiya sees korfball making it to the list of priority sports. "Grants from the Centre will go a long way in promoting the sport."
A Masters in computer science, Dahiya is close to picking up a degree in management too. Despite its limited reach, the heart longs to eke a living out of korfball. "A cushy opening in the corporate sector is not beyond reach, but if I have it my way, korfball is the way forward. After all, passion plays a part too."