Squash legend Jonathon Power put on a show while raising money for charity in Ra’anana on Sunday night.

The 38-year-old Canadian, who retired in March 2006 when he was ranked as the world’s top player, won 36 top-level squash events during his career, including the World Open in 1998 and the British Open in 1999.

Power came to Israel on the invitation of Maccabi Tel Aviv soccer club owner Mitch Goldhar, who also had a short scrimmage with his countryman during the event from which all the proceeds went to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Israel (Mishelet Lev).

Mishelet Lev is the Israeli affiliate of the international foundation whose sole mission is to grant wishes to children suffering from life-threatening illnesses between the ages of 3-18.

Power, who also played some of Israel’s top squash players while performing trick shots which enthralled the crowd, arrived in the country on Saturday, stopping over for three days between other squash commitments in Pakistan and England.

“I was talking to Mitch about having to travel to Pakistan before going to England and that I had time to kill in Europe,” Power said.

“He said that he will be in Israel at that time with the soccer team.

“The timing worked out beautifully and I’d never been to Israel and always wanted to go.

“It was a great opportunity to kick that off my list and get to see Israel this way and promote squash while helping a good cause.”

Power, who will already be leaving Israel on Monday, has thoroughly enjoyed his time in the country, even though he was given an unpleasant welcome by border control upon his arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport.

“I came off and they took me to the back room and made me wait for a while,” Power said.

“Eventually, they brought me in for a proper interview and they looked on the internet and saw who I was and I showed them my invitation from Mitch so they started to get that I was here for a good reason.”

Despite being delayed for an hour-and-a-half, Power said that the ordeal at the airport didn’t sour his impression of Israel and Goldhar is hoping that his experience in the country could eventually help Jewish-Muslim relations.

“He is so familiar with the non-Jewish world and has such credibility in these countries that I thought it would be helpful for us and a positive thing for him to come to Israel,” said Goldhar, who has also worked with the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Canada.

“I decided a long time ago to focus on children’s charities. This is something they are doing all over the world, including Canada, which I’m familiar with.”

Squash has always been a peripheral sport in Israel, but Power believes that can change in the future.

“In most of the world squash has an elitist connotation but it isn’t an expensive sport to play,” he said.

“It’s the most physical sport out there and is perfect for the modern world.

“You burn more calories playing squash than any other sport.

“There are so many reasons why I think that in the next 10-15 years squash will become a trend and a sport of the future.

“In the modern world time is limited and exercise is needed and squash is the perfect marriage of that.”

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