Hapoel Ashkelon players run for cover

Coach Feigenbaum attempts to calm team after Color Red siren sounds during training.

Feigenbaum 248.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
Feigenbaum 248.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
Since making his debut for Hapoel Tel Aviv some 44 years ago, Yehosha "Shiye" Feigenbaum has continually been involved with Israeli soccer, as a player and a coach. After retiring as a player in 1983, Feigenbaum went into coaching and has since worked at 14 different clubs. Little, however, could prepare Feigenbaum for what he has experienced as coach of third division Hapoel Ashkelon in recent months, especially since the IDF's attacks on Gaza on Saturday. As Feigenbaum's players were warming up ahead of Sunday's training session the Color Red siren indicating rockets had been fired at the city from Gaza went off and everyone raced for cover. Training only resumed a while later after the players settled down. Feigenbaum showed that he knows his team can't continue much longer in the current situation. "There's a lot of pressure. We spoke about the situation at the start of training and we all found ourselves running for cover during the warmup," he said. "The players keep on asking about what will happen, but we understand that this is something which will not be resolved in a short time." Ashkelon leads the third division Liga Artzit and faces second-placed Ness Tziona away from home on Saturday. But unsurprisingly few people at the club have had soccer on their minds. "This is an unnatural situation, but we know we need to cope with it, as difficult as it may be," Kfir Leibowitz said. "As soon as training is over everyone runs to their phones to call home and speak to their families. I hope we can get through this period. No one feels like playing soccer." Starting Monday, Ashkelon will be able to train in the center of the country after the Israel Football Association announced that it will provide a training ground for the club. Feigenbaum is hoping, however, that the situation will quickly improve and the team will not have to move its training sessions up north. "We see what's happening in Sderot and how long that has gone on for," Feigenbaum said. "We all have families and they're watching the TV and are worried. I do my best to calm the players down. "Let's hope it doesn't get any worse and we don't have to move to the center, because that won't look very good." Ashdod SC of the Premier League will return to training on Monday, and currently has no intention of changing its original plans. The club considered moving the training session, but eventually decided against it, although all youth activity at the club has been cancelled for the time being. The escalation in the security situation is also affecting local basketball. The Israel Basketball Association announced on Sunday that the State Cup quarterfinal ties will be postponed by two-and-a-half weeks. The games were set to be played over the coming weekend, but Ironi Ashkelon, which was scheduled to host Hapoel Holon, requested to move the encounters and the IBA obliged, postponing them from January 4 to January 21.