Hard Work Pays off…Maccabiah Games here we come

As Jews we have been passing the torch from generation to generation for thousands of years. The Maccabiah games are no different. The exhilaration of walking into opening ceremonies with 10,000 plus Jewish athletes from over 80 countries in front of 40,000 spectators is so special and spiritually moving  that more often than not when players stop competing they feel the desire and obligation to pass on that experience as coaches and volunteers to the next generation of athletes.

The Maccabiah Games, held in Israel every 4 years, is the third largest sporting event in the world and is often referred to as the Jewish Olympics.

In Toronto, long time veterans of the Games, Jason Mausberg and Gil Vainshtein, have been grooming a group of players for years to compete in the Maccabiah Games. For the past 6 years this group of elite soccer players have been playing and winning at the highest level of soccer available in Ontario under the Maccabi Canada team banner.

And now, 11 of these Toronto players who have been teammates for years will be going to Israel as part of the U16 Maccabi Canada Junior Boys Soccer team. For Jason Mausberg, who represented Canada at age 16 and then went on to play in 6 more Pan Am and Maccabiah games, it is beyond rewarding. He has watched and nurtured these players for 3 or 4 times per week year round for the last 6 years. And now to see them as highly competitive young men, is simply remarkable.

For the boys, this is the culmination of years of work and of course enjoyment. Representing your country is a dream come true. The U16 players are hoping to replicate the success their coaches achieved in 2013 when they brought home the first ever medal for the Canadian men in soccer.  In addition to the strong core of long time team mates there are some exceptionally and well credited players joining the team including, Vancouver Whitecaps scoring sensation Yigal Bruk, Ontario provincial team member (whose father competed in the Maccabiah for Mexico) Eitan Rosen, and long time Toronto FC player Jacob Daum.  With 12 teams competing from around the world including soccer power houses Israel, Argentina, Great Britain, Brazil, and the USA it won’t be easy.

For U16 player Jacob Mausberg , who attended the Pan American and Maccabiah Games to watch his dad compete, highlights “the Games are an expression of pride in the three most important areas in my life. My Jewish pride firstly… the feeling of marching into a stadium with 40,000 Jews from all over the world; My national pride. I know how incredible it felt to be sitting in the stands, cheering for Canada. I can only imagine the feelings of pride when I put on the red and white colours of Canada and play for my country; Lastly, my athletic pride as I have a love and passion for soccer, and I feel honoured to be able to compete at a high international level, like the Maccabiah Games”.

For  parent and coach Jason Mausberg watching his son and team mates compete  representing Canada in Israel will undoubtedly be one of the most meaningful and important highlights of his 30 plus years of Maccabi experiences.

L’dor va’dor.     From generation to generation