Brotherly love from Gibraltar

By JONATHAN MARRACHE, YITZHAK MARRACHE
July 17, 2013 11:36
1 minute read.

 
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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 Gibraltar.

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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 Argentina.

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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