Israeli national teams Canada-bound for worlds

Both of Israel’s teams are considered medal contenders in Ottawa.

Israeli women’s and men’s national football teams (photo credit: Courtesy)
Israeli women’s and men’s national football teams
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Israeli men’s and women’s national teams took off Wednesday morning to Canada to compete in the fifth biannual International Federation of American Football (IFAF) Flag Football World Championships.
Twenty teams from 11 countries and three continents, consisting of the world’s best female and male flag football players, will converge on Ottawa, Ontario, the Canadian capital, from Wednesday through Sunday to participate in what has become a premier amateur sporting event in his short existence.
Both of Israel’s teams are considered medal contenders in Ottawa, with the women having brought home a silver from their most recent international action in June and the men finishing a strong fourth last summer at the European championships in Ireland.
The Israeli delegation is being sponsored by a host of generous benefactors who came together to make the trip happen and secure the blue-and-white’s participation in what is viewed as an extremely important mission.
“Yes, we are going to play football,” exclaimed long-time women’s coach Yonah Mishaan. “As important as that is, we are also ambassadors of Israel to a international sporting public that has different conceptions of Israelis and Jews, notions that we try to reshape for the positive every time we are on the field. I can’t thank our sponsors enough – from the Myra Kraft to Irgun Ayelet to our Canadian friends – for realizing the deeper value in this.”
Other donors for the delegation include Canadian accounting firm Zeifmans, Gold4Cash, Ber Tov Capital, the Zeligman, Zieleniec and Shanker families, Shoel Silver, Masha Tabak and friends, the law firm of Gluskin Sheff, The Walter & Alice Gorham Foundation, Peter Tanenbaum, Hart Hasten, Firm Capital, Brona Rosen, Lenny Cogan and Shmuel Goldin.
Female athletes representing Austria, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Sweden and United States will compete, while male teams from Austria, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Sweden and United States will also be represented.
The competition will kick off on Friday, with the first day of group round-robin play for both the men and women. There are more group games on Saturday, however the Israeli teams do not participate on Shabbat and will be playing a full-load schedule on Friday to make up for the missed day.
Teams’ records from the group play will determine the seeding for the playoff round, to be held on Sunday.
At the 2008 championships in Quebec, host Canada’s men’s team and the women from Mexico took the titles; both will be back to defend their golds this year.
“It is always a special feeling to represent Israel on the playing field,” noted men’s captain and QB Kenny Zwiebel. “However, our primary goal is not just to participate, but to come back triumphant.”
That sentiment was echoed by women’s safety Sarit Bailey.
“I’ve been a part of some really great teams over the past six years. But there is just something about this group of girls that makes us feel especially confident as a team going into this tournament. We feel this is our best chance ever to bring home a medal.”