My Experience at Maccabiah 21, July 2022 by Greg Hurvitz
21st MACCABIAH GAMES 2022
This past July, the 21st Maccabiah Games took place in Israel. A year late based on Covid complications but still another superb event.
We followed our members closely, particularly the efforts of our club coach and administrator Martin Jona, our very special ambassador Melissa Maizels for Futsal and then one of our board members Greg Hurvitz who went with the Open cricket boys.
Martin and Melissa were directly involved with Football. Martin Manager of the Open Football team – a team that may not have gone to the games if not for Martin’s incredible devotion to making it happen. He also assisted with coaching support to Melissa in the Women’s Futsal team. This is the first time Women’s Futsal from Australia made it to the Maccabiah and what an impact they made.
The experience began with the Australian team Pre camp in Netanya, a unique and special experience for the Australian delegation to be able to be together for 4 - 5 days. In this time, they got to know each other, acclimatise and get into the training mode in preparation for the games. A very special and poignant day for the Australian team is the BRIDGE ceremony in which the Maccabiah officials and Team Australia commemorate the horrors of 1997 when 4 Australians died in the Bridge collapse ahead of the opening ceremony. The stories in the lead up are harrowing and scary to say the least.
Greg Hurvitz says “I had a team manager, Danny Klinger, who was on this bridge and in fact did fall into the water. His sharing of the experience with me and the team was meaningful and very special. It was made very real for us and we really bonded as Australians leading into this commemoration”. Greg carried on reflecting on his personal experience, “in one of my other roles as a Shule Chazzan I was given the distinct honour of leading the Memorial prayer for this service, this is a personal highlight for me in my career and at these games.”
Moving from this special commemoration the teams got going the next day in most sports before the opening ceremony and from the Pre camp venue spread out over 4 central venues, Netanya, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem. The opening ceremony was incredibly special, a time to feel very Australian and very proud to be Jewish.
Once competition got underway the focus changed – Martin’s open football team was a motivated, well coached group, Jonas reflected, “Being the Team Manager of the Australian Open Men’s Football Team was an amazing experience. I enjoyed everything: the training sessions, the games, the trips on the buses, the shared meals… and I even got to play a few minutes in one of the matches!” Martin was said to be one of the most helpful and dedicated team members of the Aussie team.
Martin also supported Melissa, “It was an honour for me to coach the Australian Women’s Futsal team in their first game at Maccabiah 2022 (11-0 win against Israel). The girls did a fantastic job and ended up winning the final against USA in a thrilling penalty shootout. I was invited by the team to be part of the prizegiving and got a gold medal; a moment that I will never forget.”
Melissa Maizels, who one of our MFCC’s Girls teams is named after, was her incredible self, connecting and inspiring all around her. To get to the games and leave with a GOLD medal in the first FUTSAL experience for the women is a sublime achievement. If you have seen the videos of the GOLD MEDAL final and the joy, this pretty much sums up perfectly how amazing the team and Melissa were at the games.
The Aussie team itself was the biggest delegation ever sent, well over 470 athletes. It is reported that medal wise this is the best the Team has done and the energy for 2025 seems tangible already.
At MFCC we can only continue to deliver as best we can to offer all our players, coaches and volunteers the best opportunity at being part of the Maccabiah team in 2025 and beyond. As Greg Hurvitz says, “Any Jewish sports person, passionate about their Judaism, at whatever level, will benefit from this incredible international Jewish experience and I would genuinely recommend attendance.”