By Craig Silver
July 4, 2008
These days I have to say there is a seriously lack of professional Jewish sportsmen and women, and one has to question as to when the breakthrough is going to come.
I am starting to worry, and rightfully so. This past week in the JC, Danny Caro interviewed the ONLY Jewish person to have won Wimbledon, over 50 years ago! Moving on from that, former Manchester City and Crystal Palace footballer Barry Silkman has been pretty much the only British Jew to play in the big time for a Premier League side.
As far as I am concerned it is simply not good enough. Last year, I remember speaking to Silkman, now a football agent who also expressed his concern and told me: "Most of the kids these days are not playing football or other sports and have just been forced into going to work for their parents' businesses rather than play sports." I can't help but agree.
Being a sports reporter working for the Jewish Chronicle, I would love to be reporting on someone who has just clinched their dream move to Spurs, Arsenal or even Manchester United, but I don’t see that coming anytime soon. The closet I have come to that, are the likes of Joe Jacobson, Sam Sloma or Scott Shulton who have all played or are playing professional football.
Jacobson was big news when he first joined Bristol Rovers after an unsuccessful time at Cardiff. He was named by various newspapers, including us as ‘the first Jewish footballer in 25 years’. But at the League One side he has more than held his own, as their first choice left-back and has had the chance and in my view honour of playing at Wembley and in an FA Cup quarter-final.
Sam Sloma, another player who has played for a selection of clubs, most recently helped Dagenham and Redbridge keep their league status in the Coca Cola Football League. Now at Grays Athletic, I am sure we haven’t heard the last of him and again he is another player who is living his dream everyday.
Scott Shulton has only just begun his professional career, after signing a one-year contract at League Two's Wycombe Wanderers. He’s from Mill Hill and proves the point that you can achieve your dream if you work for it!
There are also a few players playing in the JC MSFL, who I believe are good and young enough to go on and try-out for bigger and better teams.
But there you go, that’s it! A few others crop up here or there but no one, who has made it to the big time. You maybe thinking, come on Craig its not that easy but to be honest I believe we have the talent to produce some new sporting talents, who could go on to become big stars. I am also hoping that London’s 2012 will prove to be a new introduction of new British Jewish stars that will go on to win the Gold medals.
But with the way things are now, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but I fail to see where the next big Jewish sports star is going to come from.