Korfballers KL visit a real eye-opener

In Malaysia to compete at the U21 Asia-Oceania Korfball Championship, the New Zealand team found time to get out and about and take in some of the sights and sounds of Kuala Lumpur. Korfball is a sport similar to netball and basketball played by two teams of eight players with four female players and four male players in each team. In this article, team representative Kaylene Siegenthaler describes their time in Malaysia.
The team posing for a group photo in their black team shirts

For some of the team, it was their first time outside of New Zealand

For some of our players, this trip was their first time travelling outside of New Zealand and to go to a country like Malaysia and see how people live there was an eye opener.

Opposite our hotel, kids played outside apartment buildings with no grounds or grass. Washing hung on balconies or wherever there was a spare space to hang it. Dogs wandered around aimlessly - they didn't look like they had much, but it didn't stop them from being friendly towards us when we went to the laundrette or to the small dairy on the corner. 

Travelling around Kuala Lumpur was an adventure in itself. Honking cars and trucks weaved in and out and cut in front of each other to get to an open spot. To be honest, it was a bit scary at times.

Among the traffic chaos, children and babies sat unrestrained on people's laps; apparently, the government tried to make it a law a few years ago for children to be restrained, but because of the large families, child seats didn't fit in cars, so people ignored the rules.

Everything was very different to what the team was used to in New Zealand.

A montage of three photos - two children holding signs welcoming the NZ team, a team in the Batu Caves, and the KL Towers

The team visited some of Kuala Lumpur's favourite attractions including the Petronas Towers and the Batu Caves

Our tour of the 88-storey Petronas Towers was very impressive. The elevator stopped halfway up where we took photos before continuing to the top. The views across the city skyline to the distant hills were amazing.

Our next visit was to the Batu Caves – a beautiful natural phenomenon. At the bottom of the wide, multi-coloured stairs that lead up to the caves sits a huge golden statue of Lord Murgugan that is about 140 feet high.

Wild monkeys climbed up and down the handrails and weren't bothered by the huge crowds. We climbed 272 stairs to the cavernous temple cave at the top, which was nice and cool and a respite from the heat and humidity outside.

The players were all really impressed by the cave's size and the beautiful statues and Hindu shrines. 

A montage of three photos - the front of a large golden statue of Lord Murgugan, team members at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the Batu Caves and a view from the stairs looking back past the statue of Lord Murgugan to the city

Visiting the Batu Caves was a highlight of the trip

We also went go-carting, which was a great team-bonding experience and a way to relax and let off some steam on the track. It was great to see another side of the team's competitiveness come out.

As the week progressed you could see the improvement within the squad.

They represented their country with pride and dignity. For me, it was a pleasure to be a part of management and travel and get to know this very strong and inspiring group of athletes.

They finished the competition in sixth place and have qualified for Worlds in Turkey in July 2024.

The team in their street clothes posing for a photo at the entrance to the go-cart track building

Go-carting was a great team-bonding experience

The farewell gathering held at the Geno Hotel was incredible. There was a beautiful meal provided and each country got up on stage and performed, with the New Zealand team singing Tūtira Mai Ngā Iwi.  When each country was performing, they encouraged everyone to get up and join in. The atmosphere and vibe between the teams was awesome.  

Without the Asia New Zealand Foundation grant, we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the amazing experiences we did outside of korfball.

Eight of the players standing on a court in their black New Zealand strips

The team represented New Zealand with pride and qualified for the world championships in 2024

The Foundation's sports programme provides New Zealand sportspeople opportunities to grow more knowledgeable, connected and confident with Asia.

Our Community Sports Fund provides funding for community groups travelling to Asia to engage in cultural activities.