Searching For Peace Through Soccer

A new trend has just begun in Los Angeles: hosting soccer tournaments with the participation of Israeli soccer teams.

First of its kind, the Soccer Peace Tournament, took place last weekend, organized and sponsored by Soccer enthusiastsu Eytan Libesman of Elegant Fireplace Mantels, IAC (Israel American Council), Dr. Ben Drillings, Director of the American Israeli Medical Association, Eli Marmur and others who gave a hand to make the tournament happen.

The Israeli non-professional soccer team, officially representing the state of Israel, to have arrived for a thirteen days USA games’ tour, is the veterans 35+ players, among them Rifat Turek, former Hapoel Tel-Aviv club and the Israel national team player. In Los Angeles the team faced the Maccabi Los Angles team, and Iran and Afghanistan, Los Angeles teams.

Israel soccer 35+ team with Orly Halevy Los Angeles June 2013 Photo Orly Halevy
Israel soccer 35+ team with Orly Halevy, Los Angeles June 2013Photo Orly Halevy

For the last twelve years Uri Daniel is the Veterans’ Soccer Team manager and the current coach is Shaul Mymon. On this trip they were joined by Zoher Bahalul, a management member who is a well known Israeli-Arab journalist and radio personality and a lecturer in Max Stern Academic College of Emek Yezreel, in Afula and Gershon Gelerman, greater Tel-Aviv Histadrut union chairman.

There are 80 veteran soccer teams in Israel and the organization’s chairman is Natan Eckstein.

Once a year, upon an official invitation, the team takes off to an overseas tournament. The players are selected by the management and they pay all their personal trip’s expenses while the management meets other miscellaneous expenses on the tour. The rest of the costs is covered by the overseas sponsors and hosts.

The intentional thrill of the tournament was to have good sportsmanship’s spirit and the joy of the game. However the Iranian team chose to disrespect the rules, bringing along to play on their team professional players from Mexico and thus disqualified itself.

The tournament ended with Los Angeles-Maccabi team in 3rd place, Afghanistan in 4th place and though Iran won the final match, no winner was announced for 1st and 2nd place.

Israel soccer 35+ team in white Israel in red Iran June 2013 Photo Orly Halevy
Israel soccer 35+ team, in white Israel in red Iran, June 2013Photo Orly Halevy

The team, all dressed in official blue shirt and denim, ended their Los Angeles visit in an evening of gratitude and awards at the lovely home of Chaim and Varda Temkin.

The team has left Los Angeles for San Francisco where they will play against a local German club and from there they are off to Las Vegas where they will be guests of Meir Cohen, the General Manager of the Legends.

Eytan promises us that now that he had dipped his feet in the international soccer tournament’s experience, he is about to turn this first tournament into an annual tradition. Next year we are to expect greater number of Israeli teams and more exciting games, all for the purpose of bridging communities.

Go Israel go!

During the 2006 second Lebanon War, Nurit Greenger, referenced then as the “Accidental Reporter” felt compelled to become an activist. Being an ‘out-of-the-box thinker, Nurit is a passionately committed advocate for Jews, Israel, the United States, and the Free World in general. From Southern California, Nurit serves as a “one-woman Hasbarah army” for Israel who believes that if you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.

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