Canucks Go ‘Down Under’

Maccabi Australia International Games

‘Down Under” took on a whole new meaning for a dozen Maccabi Canada athletes and supporters as they marked the new year by competing in the second Maccabi Australia International Games (MAIGs).

After anticipating a chorus or two of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ and envisioning running into ‘Crocodile Dundee-type’ characters in the ‘Outback’, the Canadian contingent arrived on December 26 in Sydney and joined 450 athletes representing 14 countries to compete in various team and individual events.

Joining in the opening ceremonies of the quadrennial games, Maccabi Canada’s nine men and two women basketball players, as well as a squash player, enjoyed the week long competition and festivities that brought Jews of all ages together to share their common love of sport and Jewish culture.

Until their return January 2, the games were an opportunity for “bonding and making new friends,” said delegation head Teddy Miller. He said having everyone “under one roof” gave the delegation made up of Montrealers and Torontonians the chance to share our commonalities and differences with “our Jewish brothers and sisters.”

“I miss our time in Australia,” said men’s basketball player Ariel Kincler. “It was an unbelievable experience, 10 days we will never forget. I was very proud to represent Canada and I look forward to participate in future games for many years to come.”

“The experience is always special and I look forward to many more,” added teammate Jonathan Dresner. Dresner, who competed in the inaugural MAIGs in 2006, scored a game high 39 points in their first match of the tournament.

Between the great weather, the beaches, boating, trips to the zoo, a New Year’s Eve celebration, and Shabbat services, Miller said there was never a dull moment during the event. It all culminated with the closing ceremonies, as well as a dinner and dance. “It was a chance to solidify the bonds made during the week,” he said. He said it also paves the way for future athletes when Australia once again plays host in 2014.

 “It is great to know that around the world there are people willing to open their homes for Shabbat dinner,” said women’s basketball player Ruby Egit. Egit, who played on the gold medal winning team from the United States, also played on the Canadian women’s basketball team for the 18th Maccabiah in 2009.

“I found the Australians amazingly hospitable and the whole tournament well organized,” she added. “After Israel I thought that I would be finished with Maccabi, as I had been on several trips, but now I am eager to get involved in next year’s (2011 Pan American Games) in Brazil.”

In addition to Miller the men’s basketball team was made up of Jonathan Dresner, Moe Leibman, Ariel Kincler, Shane Bacher, Josh Schwartz, Ryan Pekeles, Shawn Levy, Ben Segev.  Women’s basketball players Ruby Egit and Rachel David, squash player Rich Varadi and supporters Teddy Audrey and Brittany Miller also joined the delegation for the week of non-stop action and life-long memories.

The 25 hours of travel were well worth it, added Miller. He said the food, accommodations and the congeniality of the host families more than made up for the thousands of kilometres travelled. Jewish athletes came from Argentina, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Canada, England, Hong Kong, Israel, Lithuania, Mexico, Scotland, Sweden, the United States, Venezuela, in addition to the host country.

With images of Australia fresh in their minds, MAIG athletes’ thoughts now turn to preparing for the Pan American Games in Brazil in December 2011 and the 19thMaccabiah in 2013.

Now let’s work hard at racking up some medals and really doing our country proud over the next few games,” said Ariel Kincler. “We have all the elements that it takes to be victorious in a number of sports, with great athletic talent and loads of potential.”

Click here to view the MAIGS move.  Enjoy!