Flag football 311.
(photo credit: AFI )
It was a double-hardware haul for Israel at the Big Bowl last week, with the
women’s and men’s flag football national teams both finishing on the podium in
While the women’s silver and the men’s bronze came up
slightly short of the twin-golds that seemed possible at one point late in an
action-packed weekend of pigskin, the blue-and- white’s duo display definitely
put the rest of the European nations on notice that Israel will once again be a
force to be reckoned with at September’s EFAF European Championships in
“This was a great preparatory tournament for us, even though it
would have been extra special to hear Hatikva played over the loudspeakers had
one of our teams taken the title,” exclaimed Yonah Mishaan, head coach of the
Myra Kraft-backed women.
Indeed, his club seemed poised to capture the
championship after coasting through its first five games, despite also pulling
triple-duty by competing in the men’s and junior draws in addition to the
six-team women’s bracket.
However, in a dramatic final against the
Austrian national team – whom they had beaten soundly early in the day – the
Israeli girls fell 21-19 and were forced to settle for second
Among the positives taken away by the team from its fourth trip to
the Big Bowl was the integration of a number of new Atuda players – Nili Block
and Ari Augenbraun – into a iron-tight unit anchored by a cadre of entrenched
“I feel like we played well, but that we can and will play much
better with this experience under our belt,” said rookie Chen Duanis, who
performed spectacularly in her first trip abroad with the team.
place higher at the Euros, and then we’ll be happy.”
men, led by first-year head coach Yossi Fuchs, were competing in their first
real games as a unit. With a roster long on talent, but short on experience, the
Big Bowl was a perfect first-tournament for the squad to gel and begin to
develop chemistry, both on and off the field.
transitioning- tackle player Joe Martisius, the Israeli men demonstrated their
quick-strike ability on offense, outpointing opponents 164-46 over the course of
the seven games they played, with dangerous targets Allan Tover, Binyamin
Schultz, Dvir Weinberg and Yonatan Halberstat all going back for seconds and
thirds to round out the scoring smorgasbord.
The “New Kids on the Block”
defense, featuring elder-statesman Raffi Grabin and a host of highschool cohorts
(Dani Eastman, Beezee Etinger, Yair Grosbard and Shlomo Berman), excelled for
the most part and led the charge to three shutout victories.
clear-cut game-of-thetournament, Israel battled Austria tooth-and-nail in an
exhilarating semifinal tilt, one that needed overtime to decide.
looked like the blueand- white had the momentum to propel it into the final, a
deep pass went just over the outstretched hand of the Israeli defender and
allowed the Austrians to walk away with the hard-earned triumph.
into this tournament hoping for a top-eight finish,” said Fuchs in the
“There were 28 teams here and we finished third. I have a ton
of things to work on with the team, and there are so many ways we can improve,
but for now I’m just feeling so proud of how the guys played.”
and women’s squads gave special thanks to the federation for non-Olympic sports
in Israel, AYELET, which is a partner in the entire national program, helping
out tremendously both financially and logistically.
“One day, maybe our
sport will be in the Olympics,” said women’s assistant coach Jessica Sagoskin.
“For now, we thank god for AYELET.”