A Brighton barmitzvah boy has combined his passion for football and his coming of age in a project which has seen him meet Premier League striker Tomer Hemed and Maccabi Haifa stars.
Wanting to demonstrate how football could be a force for good, Sol Matofska-Dyer contacted Brighton and Hove Albion to request an interview with the Israeli player.
Hemed agreed and the two met for a chat in which “Tomer told me about his career, his friendship with fellow [Brighton] footballer, Israeli-Arab Beram Kayal, and about his belief that football can create bridges between people from different backgrounds.
“He also told me about his own barmitzvah and how he needed to leave early because of a football game. I quoted him in my barmitzvah sermon, saying that football brings people together in that anyone can play the game but you cannot play it alone. Whatever backgrounds they are from, players need to pass the ball and work with others.” Sol got to deliver his sermon twice, initially at Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue and soon afterwards at Robinson’s Arch, the egalitarian area at the Kotel in Jerusalem.
And thanks to the intervention of Hemed, he was invited to a training session and match at Maccabi Haifa, Hemed’s old team.“Tomer had arranged for me to be there and meet the players and it was the same day he was named Israeli footballer of the year. He also suggested that we keep in touch and that I could come to him for advice about football,” added Sol, whose goal is to become a professional player.
Celebrity link-ups run in the family as his sister Maia recently met Yotam Ottolenghi, having been preparing Ottolenghi-style meals to dining groups to fund involvement in her school’s aid mission to East Africa.