Hapoel Jerusalem coach Simone Pianigiani (left) and center Amar’e Stoudemire,.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
While Amar’e Stoudemire has been thrilling Israeli basketball fans for over two months since joining Hapoel Jerusalem, local bureaucracy has meant his son Amar’e Jr. continues to wait for his chance to play.
Stoudemire moved to Jerusalem with his entire family, wife Alexis and their four children, including 10-year-old Amar’e Jr., who also plays basketball. Amar’e Jr. was enrolled at Hapoel Jerusalem’s youth department, but according to Israel Basketball Association regulations, he can’t play in official league action as he doesn’t have an Israeli citizenship.
“Saddened every-time I pick my son up from basketball practice that he is told he is still waiting on a “players card” to participate in a recreational local Jerusalem youth basketball league,” Alexis Stoudemire wrote on Instagram last week.
“The reason of this hold up is a rule that states because he isn’t a Citizen of Israel he is unable to play. The last few months have been practices, jersey handouts (which was delayed) and a few games (which he bravely sat on the bench). This is appalling as a mother whom supports extracurricular activities and played youth sports.”
According to the IBA , foreign citizens are not permitted to take part in youth league play. However, there is an option to receive special exemption and Jerusalem’s request to allow Amar’e Jr. to play will soon be discussed by an IBA committee.
“We know all about the issue with Amar’e’s son,” said IBA spokesperson Hagay Segal.
“According to IBA regulations, a foreigner can’t play in the youth leagues. Nevertheless, the issue has been reviewed and there have been discussions with Hapoel Jerusalem and they approached the committee that will soon look into the matter.”
The IBA wants to make sure youth teams don’t bring in foreign recruits in order to strengthen their rosters, but has no issue with foreign kids playing as long it is clear they are not in Israel for that reason.
“It saddens me as a fan that he might be forced to withdraw not to mention other non-Israeli citizens whose families come to this beautiful country to live temporarily because of jobs and or religious reasons the case may be,” added Alexis. “My son won’t be the last American citizen to be here in Israel who as a 10 year old had to come with his family can’t play. My son wasn’t the first nor will be the last non-Israeli son or daughter that will want to continue his athletic skills while living abroad.”