Getting the ball rolling

Israel hosts an international soccer tournament pitting authors against each other to bridge cultural gaps.

author soccer 88 248 (photo credit: Courtesy)
author soccer 88 248
(photo credit: Courtesy)
It's not quite Celebrity Smackdown, but a unique soccer tournament is taking place this week, pitting teams of Israeli, British and German writers against each other. A German Football Association initiative, the writers' league tournament began Sunday and will run through Tuesday. According to one of the sponsors, The British Council, the games aim to bridge gaps between nations and to promote intercultural dialogue in the same way literature does. Sixteen British writers will take part in the tournament, among them Marcus Du-Sautoy, whose novel The Music of Primary Numbers was translated into Hebrew and is an international best seller; novelist Joe Dunthorne (Submarine); and veteran fantasy and horror writer Graham Joyce (the team's 56-year-old goalkeeper). The German team will include 18 writers, including Moritz Rinke and poet and playwright Albert Ostermaier. Among the 17 Israeli players are young writers Assaf Gavron, Nir Baram and Yali Sobol. Previous tournaments have taken place in Italy, Sweden and Switzerland. In May, a team of Israeli writers traveled to Germany to compete against the German writers' team, losing 2:4. On Sunday, Israel played England at the municipal stadium in Kfar Saba; Monday's game sees England taking on Germany at the Lev Hapark stadium in Ra'anana at 2 p.m., and on Tuesday, Israel and Germany battle at noon at the Haberfeld Stadium in Rishon Lezion. A literary closing event Tuesday night featuring the writers from all the teams will take place at the Tmuna Theater in Tel Aviv at 9:30 p.m. and will include live music, poetry and fiction readings and discussions. In addition to the British Council, the tournament is supported by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the German and Israeli Football associations, the Goethe Institute and the Aroma Espresso Bar chain in Israel.