Team GB has named a 21-man Over-45’s football squad for the 19th Maccabiah Games.
GB manager Brian Donne has called-up a number of Maccabiah newcomers in his side. However, those who are returning to Israel this summer have a wealth of experience between them as they attempt to defend the gold medals they brought home from the 2009 Games.
The squad will be overseen by Donne, who is managing Team GB for the first time. He will be assisted by Maccabi GB vice-chairman Daniel Collins, with former Manchester City star Barry Silkman taking the role of Head Coach. The trio will also be playing members of the squad.
Peter Lazard and Paul Wise will be vital in bringing their wise heads to the group, both making an impressive eighth consecutive Maccabiah Games appearance each. Adding to that experience will be Laurence Swerner, who was the Player of the Tournament and Golden Boot Winner in 2009.
Preparations for this summer have been going well, with the squad recently returning from a training weekend at the National Football Centre – St George’s Park in Burton-on-Trent. Whilst here, they were put through their paces by Silkman, before playing a warm-up match against players from the north, including some ex-pros such as Champions League winner, Denis Irwin. The match ended 3-3.
Speaking about his side, Donne said: "The great thing about this squad is that most have never been to a Maccabiah Games. This will make it extra specialn for them and I know they will enjoy every moment they’re out there, taking their experiences home with them.
"The enthusiasm, excitement and togetherness of the players are our biggest attributes – with them, we will go a long way in the tournament and, hopefully, repeat the success of 2009."
"Barry Silkman offers amazing coaching skills and experience, which showed during the warm-up game against the ex-pros. We truly believe this side will go from strength-to-strength. Our role is to help each player get the maximum out of their ability and hope they enjoy the Maccabiah experience so they can encourage their children and grandchildren to take part in future Maccabiot whenever possible."
Assistant-manager Daniel Collins said: "Already we have become a really tight-knit group and I think that showed when we held our own against a strong side at St. George’s Park. We're proud of that result and we’re looking to build on that en route to Israel.
"I’ve been to the last few Maccabiah Games and I know that those in the squad who are going for the first time will enjoy their experience.
"I would like to personally thank Stuart Lustigman and the Maccabi Masters Football League. Without them a lot of us would not have the means to extend our playing careers and, as such, not have this fantastic opportunity to represent Maccabi GB at the Maccabiah Games."