With the holidays now in the rearview mirror and the temperatures beginning to drop, it can mean only one thing for the true Israeli football fan - it's IFL time again, baby, and the forecast is calling for plenty of action, mostly of the non-stop, bone-crunching variety.
The Kraft Family Israel Football League ushers in its third campaign this week with the first ever tackle football game to be played in the city of Beersheva. The host Black Swarm, sponsored by Guma Aguiar, and their expansion brethren Judean Rebels kick off the 2009/10 preseason with a 10 a.m. Friday morning clash at the Neot Lon sports complex on the west side of Beersheva.
Football fever is certainly spreading to all corners of the Holy Land as the two new clubs join the defending-champion Dancing Camel Modi'in Pioneers, Big Blue Jerusalem Lions, Real Housing Haifa Underdogs, Mike's Place Tel Aviv Sabres and newly-backed Papagaio Jerusalem Kings for what is sure to be another wild season of Israeli pigskin.
The number of games has increased this year to reflect the two-team expansion, and each franchise will play a 10-game regular season schedule followed, of course, by the playoffs.
After a short preseason, the regular season opener will take place on Thursday evening, November 5 at Kraft Stadium in Jerusalem, when Big Blue hosts the Rebels. Taking a quick peek at the rest of the schedule, some of the mouth-watering matchups include; a rematch of last year's thrilling championship game between the Pioneers and the Lions on November 28; a coast-to-coast Haifa-Beersheva special on December 4; a Channuka Bowl first-edition cage-match between the already fierce rivals Kings and Rebels on December 12; and a trio of Thursday night doubleheaders in the capital dispersed throughout the season, beginning with the Jerusalem preseason premiere on October 22.
The playoffs begin the second weekend in March with Israel Bowl III scheduled for Friday, March 26, 2010 in Jerusalem.
With potential television and radio deals under negotiations and a clamoring fan-base hungry to take in the intricacies of the game, not to mention plans for a nation-wide youth tackle football program in the works for as soon as next year, things are really hopping in the Israeli football scene.
Either way, now that the rosters are set and the behind-the-scenes off-season work complete, we must all just wait for the action to be played out on the field. As a fan of the game, one never really know what is going to transpire and that unknown is what provides the peerless excitement and tense, emotional energy of following every week. You can try to guess, predict, project, analyze, argue, dream, fantasize, forecast and/or prognosticate, but when it is all said in done, all you can really do is be a fan.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy the prime-time show that is the 2009/10 Kraft Family IFL season.
Hope to see you all on the field!
For more information and a complete 2009/10 season schedule, please visit the www.IFL.co.il