Joel’s big Macc challenge

Joel Nathan says prospective athletes should not be put off from applying for next year’s Maccabiah Games in Israel by spiralling costs.


Individual registrations for junior and open category athletes have increased £500 from the 2017 Games, with payments now reaching £4,950. Competitors aged 35-44 years must pay £5,450, while the seniors face a bill of £5,950, which they can raise themselves, through sponsorship or fund-raising.

Maccabi GB general team manager Nathan said: “We know competing at the Maccabiah Games is an expensive experience, but there is nothing better than walking out at the Teddy Stadium in front of 40,000 stadium at the opening ceremony with Jewish people from around the world.”

Nathan insists that help is at hand for any potential applicants concerned by the figures. “The cost is something that we’ve worked on since the last Maccabiah. We’ve set up international endowment fund for athletes who may not properly qualify for a bursary, and if we feel we can help them we will do.”

He said: “We will not turn away any athletes due to financial constraints. We will endeavour to help them and get everyone to the Games. We will give everyone a good ten to 12 months to set up and pay for it.

“It’s open for athletes to bring their own sponsors to the table. If they want to bring in businesses from the corporate sector we are happy to sit down and talk. Obviously sponsorship will help all athletes.”

Nathan is calling on the community across the UK to help “our search for the right people to compete”. He said: “We are all excited and want to try and attract as many new managers as possible, as well as experienced managers across a good range of sports.

“We’ve already appointed a good number of managers in team sports. The slots are virtually filled, although we are still looking for some coaches.”

GB are “hoping to take” a delegation in the region of 450 athletes, coaches and managers to Israel for the event, which runs from July 20 until August 3. Nathan said: “Obviously the team sports, such as football, futsal, netball, cricket and lacrosse, help us with our numbers. We know those sports will definitely go.

“We’re working our socks off to take junior and rugby teams. The difficulty is there is not a massive pool to select from.” He said: “We also want to take squads in lawn bowls and ten pin bowling and need people to step forward for some of the other individual sports, including rock climbing, bridge and chess.

“We would also consider player-managers for table tennis, badminton, golf, water polo, basketball, volleyball and beach volleyball.”

GB’s tennis squad have thrived at recent international events, and Nathan said: “We have a great junior set-up, with some excellent players from the European Maccabi Games moving into the adult category. I’m looking forward to seeing how they step up.”

There will be no triathlon event in Israel next year due to fears over the high temperatures from competition organisers. Instead, the event will be incorporated into a Maccabi man/woman event, which will feature a sprint triathlon, cycling time-trial , half marathon and open water swim, with individual prizes and an overall winner.  The half Marathon race will be held in Jerusalem.

Nathan admits another challenge is attracting athletes from the provinces. “This squad is not just for people from London,” he said following past criticisms that squads have been London and south-east centric. “I want to make that clear. I really want applicants from all over the country, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“I visited Manchester numerous times before the 2019 European Maccabi Games, but unfortunately not many people turned up for meetings.” He said: “No squad is pre-selected. I want northern athletes to apply as much as anyone else. I’m willing to travel and speak to people if I have to.”

Nathan confirmed Maccabi Scotland will be sending a delegation, but only in individual sports, “so if any want to apply for GB team sports they are welcome to”.

He went on to say: “I really urge anyone that wants to experience an international event to try out. We will help people get to the Games. It’s more than just sport, which I think some people forget.”

Asked about a medal target, Nathan said: “The aim is to win more medals than the 37 we secured in 2017. The squad will arrive a couple of days before the competition begins to acclimatise and for a Jewish identity programme.

“My message to potential sponsors is that you would be helping people from the community represent their country in a world Games very few are fortunate enough to experience. The economy hasn’t been easy for several years but there are lots of people who put a lot of time and effort in, as it’s a passion to represent your country and it would be a massive help to get these athletes across the line.”

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