The Gibraltarian Maccabi story as we know it today began in the 1970s with David
Bentata, who started an indoor football team trained by Abby Suissa. They played
their first game against the Ceuta Community. The enthusiasm from the team
brought in David Hassan and Moe Belilo who, together with Bentata, comprised the
three organizers of Gibraltar Maccabi.
Initially people were reluctant
about playing indoor futsal, as the ball would damage the walls of Gibraltar’s
one and only gym. To tackle the issue founding member Bentata sourced a special
Futsal ball, felt covered, like an overt-sized tennis ball, and introduced it to
At the time, futsal was not a recognized sport in Gibraltar.
Through perseverance, Maccabi Gibraltar convinced the local Gibraltar Football
Association to embrace it.
For the very first time, a junior’s team will
accompany the open team to the 19th Maccabiah World Games in Israel this July.
The junior team consists of Gibraltarian players aged 14 to 18, led by Captain
Danny Cohen and coach Jonny Hassan. The juniors will face Hungary, Spain and
Until recently Gibraltar had only ever sent a Maccabi Open
team to participate in the Futsal event. The first was to the European Maccabi
Games in Antwerp in 1983, led by Bentata and captained by Joe Suissa. In recent
years, a master’s squad made up of members of the original founding group has
been assembled The open team have been together for a few years now, with a
number of surviving members from the 2007 games in Rome. The open players are
captained by Jonathan Marrache and coached by Tomer Aboody. They will face
Guatemala, Germany and hosts Israel in the groups.
Although Gibraltar are
underdogs in both categories, the teams are aiming to finish as high as
possible, and the belief in the camp is that both teams have the ability and
desire needed to qualify into the final rounds. Regardless of results, the
achievement of sending such a large delegation is an unparalleled success and,
G-D willing, will set the foundation for Gibraltar’s participation in many more
Maccabiahs for years to come.
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