If your story is like my story, you may have arrived in Lausanne for a temporary stay; studying abroad, a move by your company, or your partner found work here. “One to two years” we told our loved ones back ‘home’ as they waved us off to our new lives abroad. More than a decade later, I smile nostalgically at my naivety.
Why have I started calling Lausanne home? Aside from discovering the wines of Lavaux, the beautifully on-time rail network and the truly Instagrammable views, I’m at home in Lausanne because I found my people here. Finding a community (tribe, posse, squad) transforms you from expat to inpat*
*inpat, international, integrated, individual who adopts Lausanne as their home (or something like that)
Find people with a common identity and interest and meet in a common place and time, and you’ve got yourself the ingredients for community. For some, community is found among work colleagues, for others it’s a community of faith, for many it’s in sport. As Lausanne is known as the Home of International Sports, we wanted to see what teams and clubs were on offer to join.
This past week I went to check out one such sports club. The common interest? Korfball. The time and place? Mondays, 7pm at the UNIL playing fields. I’d never heard of, or played, korfball, so Geert Hendriks, the founder of Korfball Club Lausanne, warmly welcomed me and my questions and was willing to explain the technicalities, as well as the origins of the club.
Originally from the Netherlands, where korfball is widely known and played, Geert learned that the game (which is like an infusion of basketball, netball and handball) did not exist in Switzerland. He claims that all you need for korfball is the post (a 3.5m high hoop), so he and another korfball enthusiast procured a post and recruited some players and kicked off Korfball Club Lausanne together.
They’re a group of around a dozen people, with at least 9 different nationalities represented. It’s a mixed sport, with teams having equal numbers of guys and ladies. Some of the members have been playing korfball for decades, for some this was only their second week trying out the club. There are those who come to practice their English (and enjoy a run around), others to practice their French. There was sweat, laughter, mess-ups and celebrations of goals and afterward there was a round of beers (now, that’s what I call a kickstart to friendship!) Geert proudly told me that even the President of the IOC has played korfball in Lausanne.
I asked Geert what he would say to someone who isn’t sure about whether they should join a club or thinks they don’t have much sporting talent.
And if all the above isn’t enough to convince you, actual scientific research has found strong links between membership in sports clubs and community connections and social solidarity (Misener & Doherty, 2012) as well as increasing all around happiness (Balish, Conacher & Dithurbide, 2016).
So, what are you waiting for? The ball is in your court; find faster friendships, higher happiness and stronger social capital.
If korfball isn’t the game for you, no sweat (yet). We’ve compiled a non-exhaustive (but possibly exhausting) list of sports clubs and teams around Lausanne. Give it your best shot, your team awaits:
Team sports that I don’t know how to categorize:
- Roller Derby (yes, it’s a thing)