The first JC Olim League, the league created by the Olim communities around Israel, comprises nine teams with Jewish footballers from all over the globe represented. This summer saw three new teams enter the league and the pre-season hype and uncertainty ended as the league kicked off on Saturday night in Tel Aviv and Ashdod.
Playing at the floodlit Tel Aviv University pitch, league veterans Jaffa FC hosted new boys Aviv City FC. This hard-fought season curtain-raiser was won comfortably (7-1) in the end by Jaffa.
Aviv City got off to the better start with some promising attacks thwarted by a strong Jaffa backline. However, this turned around midway through the 1st half when Josh Berkeley broke the deadlock for Jaffa with a strong strike from the edge of the area. This was swiftly followed with another from Josh and a third goal from Rannie Madmon following a great run down the left from Elias Sandler. Though Madmon blotted his copybook with a bad tackle injuring Sagi Meged of Aviv City and earning him a yellow card.
Jaffa continued where they left off in the second half with an early penalty placed in the corner by Josh Berkeley. At four goals up, Jaffa relaxed and started to spread the ball around beautifully with Tito Elias and Stephen Caffrey controlling the game. It wasn't long until Berkeley senior had taken his account to five goals and putting Jaffa six up. Caffrey rounded off the scoring for Jaffa late in the game with a goal from the edge of the box.
Though credit to Aviv City for not giving up, Roy Morik scored a cracker with the last kick of the game for Aviv's first ever league goal and a confidence booster for the next game.
Thirty miles south, another newcomer, Ashdod, established themselves as a force to be reckoned by humbling last season's runners up, Jerusalem, in another high-scoring result - 6-1.
"Credit to Ashdod, they are a well organised, cohesive unit. However the scoreline does not reflect the many chances we created. Their keeper made some outstanding saves and we just could not find our way past him.
“It was a learning experience but with the strong characters we have in our team- I’m sure we’ll bounce back." said Richard Patter of Jerusalem FC.
Next weekend sees current champions England FC take on the newly merged Modi’in and Beit Shemesh team and also the league’s first Northern Israel derby of Netanya vs Ra’anana.