Elitzur Ramle 370.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
It was just last March that Elitzur Ramle was the toast of Israel.
became the first Israeli women’s hoops team to lift a European title, winning
the Eurocup, continental basketball’s second most prestigious
The women’s team gave Ramle another claim to fame besides
its crime and unemployment rate, and the future looked extremely
However, as things currently stand, the club may not have any
future at all.
The new women’s hoops season got underway on Monday night,
but Ramle’s game against Elitzur Netanya was postponed as the former was unable
to meet the Budget Control Authority’s requirements due to its dire financial
Ramle’s debts are estimated to be over NIS 1 million and the
team notified FIBA that it is pulling out of the Eurocup on Sunday, two games
into its campaign, as it cannot afford to pay for its travel.
Inbar hasn’t guided the team in training in recent days as he hasn’t been paid
his salary and is owed money from previous seasons and the likes of star players
Shay Doron and Americans Natasha Lacey and Ashley Walker will not tolerate much
more uncertainty before they move on to earn a living elsewhere.
had every reason to expect that its success would attract more sponsors and
allow it to go on and achieve bigger and better things. But it quickly
discovered that optimism is a luxury which inevitably backfires in women’s
sports in Israel.
Rather than multiplying, the sponsors dried out, and
the writing was on the wall once the local municipality cut its
Nevertheless, the club’s management hoped to make ends meet
somehow, and Ramle even won the preseason Winner Cup last week.
still couldn’t avoid insolvency, and assuming no mystery backer shows up in the
coming days, it faces a decision between two options, a bad one, and another
that is even worse.
The club could try and cut its expenses as much as
possible by releasing players and staff in the hope of remaining afloat,
avoiding relegation and starting next season with a balanced
While battling for its survival in the top flight may sound like
a nightmare to Ramle fans that are used to seeing their team fighting for
championships, it is far better than the second option which would see the club
go into liquidation and start anew in the second division with what is currently
its B team.
As dejecting as Ramle’s demise is, it is only another symptom
of the general decline of women’s sports in Israel.
Perhaps the most
depressing part of all is that the basketball top flight has long been regarded
as the crown jewel of the women’s leagues, being the only true professional one in the
But even should Ramle overcome its struggles, there will only be
nine teams in the top flight this season as the league couldn’t even find a 10th
club to join.
And to think that the state of the basketball league is
vastly better than that of the soccer, handball and volleyball women’s leagues
which are essentially completely amateur.
Ramle’s triumph in the Eurocup
last year was a truly proud moment for Israeli sports.
dramatic downfall to the brink of extinction is a significant blow to the
prospect of real progress being made in women’s sports.
After all, if
Ramle can’t keep its head above water, what chance has any other team got of
long-term success? The way things are going, it won’t be long before all genuine
hope for a better future will be lost, and when that happens, the days in which
an Israeli women’s team won a European title will seem like no more than a