Can’t pay? Then you will miss Maccabiah
Deni and her mother Ofra: waiting to hear from Maccabi GB
The mother of a 15-year-old girl thrown out of a Maccabi GB basketball team over a financial disagreement, has accused Maccabi of acting “outrageously”. Ofra Azar-Freedman had told Maccabi that she would struggle to meet the £2,750 fee to be paid for each Maccabiah competitor as she is recovering from an emergency operation and has been unable to work. The divorced mother-of-two had tried to arrange for a bursary to help fund daughter Deni’s participation, but the JFS pupil received a letter last week telling her she had been withdrawn from the team because an instalment had not been paid on time. The 18th Maccabiah Games are due to take place in Israel in July, with more than 500 British athletes taking part. Ms Azar-Freedman, of Hendon, North-West London, said: “Deni has been training with the girls’ under-18 basketball team since September. She has wanted to be in the Maccabiah with all her heart. “I made it very clear to those involved at the start that because of my personal circumstances I would not be able to meet the full cost, and asked about the bursary.” She said she had been told that other families also faced financial difficulties and that parents had taken second jobs, washing cars or organised sponsored runs, to fund trips. In a letter to Deni, David Pinnick, head of the GB Maccabiah organising committee, wrote: “Due to the fact that you have not paid your second instalment, at the time of sending this letter, I have been forced to withdraw you from the girl’s basketball squad, with immediate effect.” Deni said: “I have been going to training as normal twice a week and then got the letter without warning. “I was crying when I read it because I’m really close to my teammates. There is training this week and I don’t know whether I’m allowed to go. “I really want to go to the Games and have been training really hard. It’s not fair that I cannot be part of the team.” Last November, Mr Pinnick explained how the Games could be affected by the economic situation with competitors struggling to raise their entry fees. He said that Maccabi GB had been working hard to raise kit sponsorship but admitted that athletes “may not find support as generous as in previous years”. Maccabi GB chief executive Martin Berliner said the organisation could not comment on individual cases but hoped the matter could be resolved to allow Deni to rejoin the squad.