After our focus last week on the preparations of Team Maccabi GB’s under-16 boys and girls football squads at this summer’s JCC Maccabi Games in Fort Lauderdale, this week we take a look at the U14 squads, which have now been named for the tournament.
Adam Nathan and Sam Adams will be taking charge of the boys’ team, as manager and coach respectively, and both are “very pleased” with the players they have at their disposal.
Nathan says: “Over the past few months, we’ve been working with the squad in training, looking at specific forms of play, and especially fitness in preparation for the weather in Florida.
“From here until the Games, we’re going to continue to work hard in training and set up some friendlies to prepare the boys as much as we can.”
The players assembled have experience ranging from the Maccabi Sunday League to the Eastern Junior Alliance League, while some play in academies. But for many of them, it will be the first time they’ve represented Team Maccabi GB on the international stage.
“Obviously we would love to win a medal, but our priority is that the boys enjoy the football they will be playing and take as much experience from the JCC Games going forward in their football,” adds Nathan.
Looking forward to the big kick-off, he adds: “As a squad, we’re all very excited for the Games and as we get closer and closer to the Opening Ceremony, are just continuing to prepare. To have the opportunity to represent Team Maccabi GB on a global level is a massive responsibility and the boys are very excited to excel in the tournament.”
As to what he hopes the players take from Florida apart from the football, he says: “Sam and
I hope they enjoy the whole atmosphere of the Games and our trip to Fort Lauderdale.
"We’re going to mix with so many members of the Jewish Community from across the world, learning from other cultures and connecting with our own Judaism throughout the tournament.
“We hope the boys take every opportunity in their stride and enjoy their time at the Games.”
The U14 Girls side, like the U16 side, will be playing as a mixed team, and will be joined by one player from Memphis, one from Moise Safra Centre, New York, and two from San Diego.
The Under-14 Girls Squad. Their coach says she is ‘thrilled’ by their ability (Photo: Dan Gould)
Managing the team will be Natasha Kingsley, who is “absolutely thrilled” with the squad they’ve assembled.
She says: “These girls have shown tremendous dedication, talent, and a strong bond as a team.
"Our training and preparation have been intense yet enjoyable. We’ve focused on improving individual skills, tactical understanding, and fostering a cohesive team dynamic. We’ve worked on various drills, set-pieces, and match simulations to ensure we are well-prepared for the tournament.”
A series of friendly matches have been planned between now and the start of the competition, while they will continue to work on their physical fitness, teamwork, and mental preparation.
“Overall, our goal is to maximize our strengths and minimize our weaknesses before the games begin”, she adds.
As to what she expects from the other sides, she says: “We know that every team will bring their best players, strategies, and determination to win and expect intense matches against skilled opponents who will push us to our limits.”
Excited about representing their country on the world stage, she says: “The opportunity to compete against teams from different countries is a dream come true for these young players.
"They have formed strong bonds and friendships within the team, and the prospect of wearing their national colours and playing together internationally fills them with joy and pride.
“As the manager, I share their excitement and feel privileged to guide them through this journey. Witnessing their progression has been immensely rewarding. We are determined to give our all and showcase the talent and potential of our team.”
Aside from the sporting side, Natasha hopes they will gain valuable experience on several levels.
“Participating in an international tournament will expose them to different playing styles and perspectives on the game but will also provide a platform for personal growth and development” she says.
“The girls will learn about teamwork, discipline, resilience, and the importance of setting goals. They will face challenges that will require them to push beyond their comfort zones. These experiences will provide them with valuable life skills beyond the football pitch.”
Under-14 Boys Squad: Isaac Bezalel, Joe Callman, Reuben Dias, Uriel Hirsch, Rafi Hudaly, Ital Lichtenstein, Rafi Pater, Casey Radzan, Jonathan Wagner and Rafi Witzenfeld
Under-14 Girls Squad: Xenia Bobroff, Evie Estrin, Maya Lurie, Eve Meyer and Jessica Myeroff