de Hond was the true star
You could almost hear a pin drop when Marc de Hond took to the stage at the Maccabi GB Sports Awards the other night.
He gave an emotional account about how he went from a fit, happy-go-lucky youngster with a big sporting dream to rock bottom overnight following a spinal cord injury.
Having reported on the 2012 Paralympics, I’ve met some pretty inspiring people over the past year or so, but Marc is right up there with the very best.
"It was as though my world had collapsed around me," he recalled. "I went from being a good goalkeeper to a wheelchair so suddenly and sport was the last thing on my mind."
But with months of rehab and strengthening, slowly but surely Marc’s strength came back, both mentally and physically, and he managed to return to the field of play, and he overcame all the odds to represent Holland in Israel.
Marc was one of the unsung heroes of the 19th Maccabiah Games- competing in the Wheelchair Basketball competition — captaining the World Team — and the decision to present him with an MVP Award was an inspired one.
He captured the hearts of the audience, both here and in Israel, and his speech was one of those moments when the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. The glass is definitely half full, as far as Marc is concerned.
* Another man who is inspiring a generation is Dean Furman. He has become the ultimate role model for every football-mad Jewish youngster. His devoted parents have ensured he remains grounded – they have followed and supported him every step of the way. Of course he was disappointed with the first red card of his career, but that cannot take the gloss off what he has already achieved in the game.
* As if there wasn’t enough football on during the festive period, Four Four Jew at the Jewish Museum, Camden, has announced a special 2-for-1 offer for anyone going to a match during that time. Just turn up with a ticket or programme to get your free ticket.
* Tributes have been flooding in for Maccabi World Union President Guiora Esribilsky who passed away this week. Maccabi GB Chief Executive Martin Berliner said: "We are shocked at the news. Our feelings and thoughts are with his family. Today our movement lost one of our great leaders."
Sam Cohen, who was Team Manager of Maccabi GB at the 2011 European Maccabi Games in Vienna, said she was "shocked and saddened". She added: "Our movement has lost a great leader and friend. Thoughts are with his family at this difficult time."