Israeli lacrosse team looks to Europe
A British-born lacrosse player is hoping to fulfil a dream this summer and compete on Israel's behalf in the European Championships.
Tash Kalmanson, who moved to Israel last year and is studying for an MA in Jewish studies at Tel Aviv University, has been selected to play on the Israeli woman's team at the competition in Amsterdam in June.
The 24-year-old, a former movement worker for FZY, is the only Brit on the team; most other members are olim who played at schools and colleges in the US.
However there is a risk the team will be thwarted at the first hurdle, as players must raise around £2,000 each from corporate or community sponsors in order to fund the costs of participating.
"This is a dream-come-true opportunity," said Ms Kalmanson. "I never thought I'd play any international competition, but it would be my proudest moment to walk out onto the pitch with Israel on my shirt. If we don't get the money we won't be able to go, so I'm trying to hold back my excitement."
Israel Lacrosse was set up last year by American-born player Scott Niess as a non-profit organisation. There are now teams in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Team members have been running sessions for Israeli youth and launched an appeal for Diaspora Jews to donate old sticks.
The Israeli teams only gained recognition by the European Lacrosse Federation and the Federation of International Lacrosse a few months ago, but Israel is still a frontrunner in the region. Its closest lacrosse-playing neighbor is Turkey, followed by Uganda - the only lacrosse-playing nation in Africa.
Mr Niess said that gaining membership had been a rigorous and complicated procedure, but he was delighted Israel now had the chance to play in Europe and try for the 2014 world cup.
"Having the opportunity to take the field in international competition is the realization of a lot of hard work for everyone involved. We have two teams in Israel, and we're sick of playing each other."