Just over a year ago David Nash began his association as a cricket coach with Maccabi GB by promising "to bring home the bacon".
It was perhaps not the most diplomatic expression to use in the circumstances, but the sentiment was well meant and in the end proved to be correct.
It was not of course bacon that Nash brought home from Israel last month but bronze – the medals collected by the Team GB Open cricket team.
And while former Middlesex wicketkeeper and England A player Nash would have loved to have returned home with gold, he was thrilled with the efforts of the team he had nurtured over the previous months.
But Nash) was just one of a small army of non-Jewish volunteers who coached many of the Team GB competitors and helped them towards their 31 medal haul and his sentiments on travelling to Israel were typical of that gallant band.
People including Junior cricket coach John Maunders, another ex-Middlesex man and former England U19 player who took his team to a silver, Samoan rugby player Elvis Seveali’I who coached the GB Open squad, tennis coach Ronnie Maxwell, and Jason Dale, who steered the Masters 35 football team to a bronze medal.
Veteran player Aviel Schwarz said of Dale: "Jason was outstanding not only for his coaching nous, but also as a
character and personality within the group. I was also chuffed to watch how he completely embraced our culture."
The experience these coaches brought to the GB team was invaluable.
Tennis ace Maxwell had enjoyed great success domestically and internationally and captained many winning teams including the Middlesex under-18 Division One winning team. He has also captained the AEGON under-12-14 Club Champions.
Seveali’i played in two World Cups at centre for Samoa and enjoyed a successful career in Britain, turning out for clubs including Bath, Sale, Ospreys and London Irish.
Seveali’i said: "I was thrilled and proud to go to Israel with Maccabi GB and very impressed by the talent we had on the pitch."
Nash summed up he feeling of all the non-Jewish members of the GB party when he said: "It was first ever visit to Israel and a wonderful experience. The hospitality was amazing and we learned so much about the country. We loved going to Jerusalem and our visit to the Yad Vashem was a truly emotional experience and one I will never forget. You just can’t take it all in."
Nash, 35, who is now in advertising, was invited to join the Maccabiah campaign by his friend Hilton Nathanson, one of Team GB’s players who helped to organise his Middlesex benefit match when he retired from cricket four years ago. He said: "I was delighted with what the team and manager Russell Corin achieved in Israel. Many of our players went out as boys and came back as men!”
So, as the saying goes, even when it comes to sport, you don’t have to be Jewish!
Written by Lawrie Hacker