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Ran Faber in action with TeamNL during the World Championship in Taiwan Photos by TeamNL Korfbal

Ran plays for the national team

‘Korfball being my job is a dream come true’

Ran Faber in action with TeamNL during the World Championship in Taiwan Photos by TeamNL Korfbal
Ran Faber was the best korfball player under 21 for three years running. Last year, he and TeamNL became world champion, and he became most valuable player of the championship. On top of that, he also studies econometrics. ‘But it’s going to take me four years.’
25 March om 16:55 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 27 March 2024
om 11:08 uur.
March 25 at 16:55 PM.
Last modified on March 27, 2024
at 11:08 AM.
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Door Tim van de Vendel

25 March om 16:55 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 27 March 2024
om 11:08 uur.
Avatar photo

By Tim van de Vendel

March 25 at 16:55 PM.
Last modified on March 27, 2024
at 11:08 AM.

What korfball means to him? Ran Faber doesn’t have to think about it for long: ‘It’s the ultimate team sport’, he says. 

It’s not only one of the few mixed-gender sports, but at twenty-five minutes a half, it’s an incredibly fast sport. On top of that, the rules also change frequently: a few years ago, they introduced a new type of ball and last fall, they implemented an extra yellow card. This means teams need to constantly invent new strategies. ‘It used to be a much slower game, but these days, people are surprised how dynamic and physically demanding it is.’

Faber, who also studies econometrics, really enjoys the sport. Fortunately, he’s also really good at it: last year, he and his team became world champions, and he was also crowned most valuable player of the tournament. In April, he will attempt to win the Dutch Championship. ‘That’s actually much harder’, he says: out of the last twelve world championships, the Dutch won eleven. 

Natural

The love of korfball was instilled in him from an early age. He was only four years old when his parents, who also played the sport, took him to his first training session. ‘Walking around the gym in my socks, I never could have known that things would turn out like this’, he says. ‘Then again, it wasn’t on my mind at all at the time.’

Everyone I had looked up to for all those years was at squad training

He quickly turned out to be a natural at the sport. At his club, LDODK in Gorredijk, Faber quickly rose to the highest level, joining one talent team after another. When he was invited to join the national korfball team for players under seventeen, he was pretty much the only one who was surprised. ‘I remembered walking into practice that day’, he says. ‘And everyone I had looked up to for all those years was there!’

That was the moment where he realised he might make it to the official national team. ‘I’d seen them play the year before’, he says. ‘When they showed up in their orange outfits and orange bags, I wanted to be one of them so badly.’

The next team he joined was in fact the national under-21 korfball team. That same year, he started university, which meant his days were long and his calendar was always full. ‘It’s not for everyone’, he realises, ‘but I managed to make it work. But my bachelor is going to take me three years to complete.’

Different life

The combination of high-level sports and studying means Faber isn’t an ordinary student. For one, he rarely goes to class. ‘I only go to Groningen twice per block’, he admits. ‘Just to take my exams.’

This wasn’t an issue during the pandemic, but afterwards, his faculty wanted students to come back to campus.’ ‘We no longer get the recording these days, but I got used to it from the pandemic’, he says. These days, he studies at home, using his books and lecture slides as his sources. ‘It’s not the same as watching the actual lecture, though.’

His social life differs from regular students, as well. His study association’s activities, drinks, and workshops all take place on Thursdays. ‘But that’s when I practise. I do go out or to a party sometimes, but I don’t live an average student life.’ 

He’s okay with that, though. ‘It’s a choice I’ve made.’ His entire life, he and his friends have got fulfilment from the sport, so he doesn’t feel the need to look for it elsewhere. ‘I guess I’ve kind of always lived that top-class sport life.’

Highlight

There are plenty of achievements to be satisfied with. He’s been playing at the highest level in the country since his second year on the national team. At the end of that season, he was named best player under 21. ‘I was extremely honoured.’ He was named best player again and again in the years after. 

I only go to Groningen twice per block

Last year, he experienced his most recent highlight. Faber and TeamNL won the World Championship in Taiwan. ‘It had long been a dream of mine to say that korfball was my job’, he says. You can only do that when you’re on the Dutch team. ‘I’m just a regular guy from Friesland. I’ve always thought there were people who were better at this than I was.’ 

But then he was named most valuable player of the tournament, and his day was made. ‘I didn’t even know that prize existed’, he says. ‘We were just celebrating. I had just sat down to eat my pizza, listening to the announcements, when my jersey number came up. I realised there were talking about me!’

Planning

Combining his studies and his sports career isn’t easy. The UG’s sports grant helps, but proper planning and adjustments to his studies are even more important. He often does assignments instead of attending mandatory classes, and he once sat an exam at ACLO during the summer holidays. ‘The person overseeing it had nothing to do with the course and I didn’t get my grade until after the summer.’

He wouldn’t have made it to the World Championship without proper planning and support. ‘But there are always options when I really need it’, he knows now.

There are always options when I really need it

He is currently writing his thesis, and fortunately, his supervisor is very understanding. ‘It’s not like I have all the freedom in the world, but I had a deadline for April 15, while the play-offs for the Dutch Championship are on April 13’, he says. ‘Fortunately, they were able to move the deadline.’

One advantage is that he benefits from his studies in his sports career. He learned that there are countless patterns to be found in data and how to use them.

Before every game, he analyses his opponents and their preferences in order to intercept the ball as efficiently as possible. ‘The women, for example, tend to throw over my head or to the side; I can keep that in mind when I’m playing defence.’

What are his plans for the future? For now, he’ll be focusing on the play-offs and the final in April. LDODK still has a few games left in which to qualify, and the club has never been Dutch champion before. ‘Unfortunately, exams are also coming up, so that’s kind of a shame.’

Dutch