Sam Meisel described winning the UJIA European Maccabi Games Junior Award as the “perfect birthday present”.
Meisel, who turned 16 at the start of this month, came up trumps in Budapest after accepting a challenge to compete three years above his age group. Representing Team Maccabi GB in the under-18 futsal competition, he passed the test with flying colours and helped the team retain gold.
Meisel, who studies at JFS and lives in Radlett, saved the day as he stepped in at the 11th hour after goalkeeper Max Schulberg was ruled out through injury. All this after Meisel had shown remarkable powers of recovery earlier in the year as he recovered from a ruptured spleen. And by August, just five weeks after his call-up, he was standing proudly on the winners’ podium in a sport he had only been playing for 18 months.
Victory was confirmed with a 7-3 success over Hungary in the final. Meisel recalled: “ I was originally selected for the U16 squad and I was really excited after being called into the U18s and not daunted by the fact I was playing three years up.
“During the build-up, I played in a friendly match against Manchester Futsal at St. George’s Park. I was at the training session where Max was injured and really felt for him, but we became great friends from that day and he was a massive help for me in Budapest.”
Meisel described the tournament as “one of the best experiences I’ve ever had”. He said: “Winning gold was an amazing feeling. The overall standard of the tournament was outstanding and the feeling at the final whistle was unbelievable, as was the outpouring of emotions.”
Meisel, who used to play for the academy teams at Barnet, Spurs and Stevenage, before a short spell at Brentford, was praised for being “a leader and good friend to all” by joint-managers Adam Lustigman and Phil Caplin. He is currently playing for the ProFutsal Development team, as well as 11-a-side football for London Lions U18 and Bishop’s Stortford U16 in the EDA Division.
Andy Landesberg says the Men’s Open Football squad “fully deserved” their UJIA European Maccabi Games Open Award accolade after winning gold in Budapest. Under manager Landesberg, GB cruised through the group stages with victories over Sweden, Spain and Switzerland. They went on to crush Belgium 4-0 in the semi-finals before edging past France 2-1 in the final.
Landesberg said: “It’s a fantastic achievement for the boys to have won this award. The Games finished in August, so it brings back some great memories. The boys trained so hard and so well for the competition, and they showed great discipline in the final and an extra quality that was really special.
“It’s a great accolade for all the players and backroom staff, who were all involved in delivering the gold medal and it also sets a platform for the 2021 Maccabiah Games in Israel.”
Landesberg went on to say: “For me, it forms part of the progression for the team, many of whom will hopefully represent GB at the next Maccabiah. Everything was delivered at a professional level and I’d like to think there’s a nucleus of players in there who will be involved in Israel. They know what they have to deliver in two years’ time.”
John Barnett expressed pride and delight after winning the UJIA European Maccabi Games Masters Award.
The oldest member of the MGB delegation, Barnett, 80, enjoyed an outstanding tournament, capping off a series of strong performances by winning a gold medal, partnering Peter Hesz to win the Masters Men’s over-65 doubles. But what made these Games unique for Barnett was that he competed alongside his son, Alex (Masters tennis), and grandson Ben (U16 football).
Barnett said: “There cannot be many international events where a grandfather, his son and grandson can each compete and even bring home medals as we three did from Budapest.“
Commenting on the importance of the event, he added: “The continuation of the Maccabi Games both in the UK and abroad helps the whole of the Jewish community to stick together in a sporting environment.” Ranked no. 3 in his age category in the country, Barnett also represented Great Britain at the World Masters Tennis Championships in Croatia earlier this year.
Samantha Cohen receives the Pan American Maccabi Games Award after winning two medals in Mexico City. The MGB assistant Head of Delegation secured a gold medal in the tennis doubles, together with Sharoni Rosenberg of Chile, and silver in the Masters’ singles tournament
Cohen says she felt “very honoured” to receive the award. She said: “Twenty years after beginning my Maccabi journey as a junior athlete at the European Games, I was proud to represent Team GB in Mexico, at my first Maccabi Games as a Masters athlete.
"Being part of the GB squad was a great experience and bringing home a gold and silver medal was extra special.”
Fencer Oliver Strange says winning the Susan Halter Elite Athlete award is “wonderful recognition” for his efforts and he insists it will make him “dream bigger”.
Ranked no. 1 in the men’s foil in Great Britain, Strange, who lives in Barnet and attends Aldenham School, clinched a silver medal representing England in the Youth Five Nations in Dublin in June. He also finished seventh in the Budapest Cup out of 285 international fencers from around the world and he claimed another seventh place finish in the GB under-23 Men’s Championships. Strange competes as a GB Cadet in under-17 and under-20 Men’s individual competitions and in team events for GB.
Strange, who belongs to the Salle Paul fencing club at the Leon Paul Fencing Centre in Hendon, was in dominant form at the EMG in Budapest, winning three golds, one silver and a bronze.
The accolade is due reward for Strange who started fencing aged seven at Finchley Foil. He then moved to Salle Paul where he trains four nights a week and competes at competitions at the weekends.
Commenting on the accolade, Strange said: “Winning the award is unexpected as the other nominees are outstanding in their sport. It gives me a boost to work harder and dream bigger.”
Strange has already qualified for the European Championships in 2020 and is now working towards selection for the World Championships later in the year. Ultimately he would love to make the Olympic team one day.
He was also ranked no. 1 in the British Fencing under-17 national rankings having accumulated a substantive 50-point lead over his nearest rival.
Tennis starlet Lilly Mould, 17, collects the Outstanding Overseas Athlete Award. She was in dazzling form at the European Maccabi Games in Budapest – her first event representing MGB. Mould won the Junior Girls Singles and Junior Girls’ Doubles, together with Natalie Wagner.
Mould, who is on a full tennis scholarship at Oregon University, was commended by the judging panel for “embracing everything about the EMG and brushing aside all her opponents, with great maturity”.
Commenting on her prize, Freshman Mould said: “It’s nice to receive recognition for my achievements at the EMG. Being part of the British delegation for the first time was really special. I didn’t know what to expect but I was treated really well.
“The clay courts were good and the competition tough in a well-organised event.” Mould described the Opening Ceremony in Budapest as “one of the most amazing experiences”. She said: “The delegation had huge support and there is nothing better than representing your country and religion.”
Mould from Birmingham hopes to compete at the 2021 Maccabiah Games, and follow in the footsteps of her late grandfather Lutz Durlacher, who competed at the event four times. “It would be really special to play in Israel,” said Mould. The Freshman will represent Oregon in the Pac12 university competition in 2020, playing against Stanford and UCLA, and NCCA event.
James Kaye secured the John Dymant JCC Maccabi Games Award following his remarkable medal-haul of 14 at the JCC Maccabi Games in Detroit, Michigan.
Kaye, 14, collected a medal in every race he competed in in his first international event representing MGB.
A pupil at Habs, Kaye, from Mill Hill, “loved making so many new Jewish friends from around the world”. He trains on a daily basis at Barnet Copthall Swimming Club and said he was “very honoured to be receiving this award which means a great deal to me”.
Kaye said: “It was exciting be able to swim for Maccabi in an international setting.”
Kaye has already signed up for the JCC Games next year in San Diego and is hoping to compete in the Maccabiah Games in 2021.
Joel Nathan has excelled in his role as General Team Manager of MGB in recent years. He receives the Fred Worms Outstanding Volunteer, just a few days after claiming the Volunteer of the Year award at the Jewish Volunteering Network Awards
Nathan, who is 50 and lives in Elstree said: “I’m very honoured to receive the Fred Worms award. It’s recognition for all the hard work I’ve done for MGB over the years.
“It feels a little strange now that I’m on the board but I have a great passion the organisation and will do my all to ensure the it continues to grow and serves the community so well.”
This year’s Ken Gradon Rachmanus Award goes to Max Schulberg. Selected to represent MGB under-18s in futsal at the EMG, the 17-year-old faced a race again time to recover after suffering a dislocated knee in training, just three months after breaking a bone in his hand. The goalkeeper had six weeks to recover from an injury for which his diagnosis was two months. Although signed off by his doctor, Schulberg took it upon himself to tell managers that he would withdraw from the squad two weeks before they set off for Budapest as he “didn’t want to let his team-mates down”.
Rather than stay in England, Schulberg’s team-mates and managers invited him to travel to Hungary as “an integral member of the squad”. He said: “I realised I had a special bond with the group and became a very passionate supporter during the Games.
“Futsal is an all-encompassing sport and everyone felt I still had an important role to play, including preparing replacement goalkeeper Sam Meisel. I helped him with pre-match strapping and warm-ups and ended up giving the half-time teamtalk in the final.”
MGB went on to beat hosts Hungary 7-3 to retain the gold medal they had won in Berlin four years earlier.
In a real-life fairytale finish, Schulberg came on to play the closing minutes of the final, making two saves to secure the win. Asked how he felt at the final whistle, he said: “It was over-whelming and a great feeling of relief. It was a wonderful team-bonding experience where everyone came together and supported one another.”
His dad, Dean, said: “I was proud of the way Max conducted himself during what was a tough few months. During the competition he was always very positive and vocal, shouting from the sidelines as though he was playing. He never showed any self-pity and was able to energise the team when they needed it.
“It was great he managed to get on to the court in the final and the experience is something that will stay with him for a long time. It was an amazing experience.”
Before the Games, Max was asked to speak at a squad gathering at a Holocaust memorial in Budapest, where he recited a poem.
Brian Green described winning the Richard Urban Lifetime Achievement Award as “a great honour”.
Green, who is 60 and lives in Edgware, describes himself as a “sports fanatic, who was not good enough to play at a high standard, so had to find an alternative route”.
He grew up in Glasgow and aged 21 he was selected to co-manage the MGB boys’ and girls’ under-14 football squad. He has gone on to represent the delegation at 14 international events, including four European Maccabi Games, three Maccabiah Games in Israel and the JCC Maccabi Games on six occasions.
He said: “I’m shocked and humbled to have won this award. Managing has always been in my blood, from leading the Belmont cricket colts to the Stonegrove FC from under-13 through to under-18. I played county level tennis and cricket but have always been a jack of all trades and master of none.”
Green was also head of delegation to the MGB squad at the Pan American Games in Mexico last summer and he says he has enjoyed seeing the organisation thrive.
“MGB really ticks all the boxes and not only do their offer unique sporting experiences, they also do great work with the Challenge and Streetwise projects.
“MGB continue to go from strength to strength. I find it special to work with junior and youth level athletes. It’s an area where I feel I can be more helpful.”
Green is now looking ahead to the 2021 Maccabiah Games in Israel, as part of the GB organising committee.
Beit Shvidler Primary won The JC School Sports Award. The Edgware school sent multiple teams to compete in various MGB sports competitions over the past 12 months, competing in netball and football. The netball team reached semi-finals and finals, while the football team were edged out in two finals.
Head of Sport Mr Segal said: “We’re really thrilled to win this accolade. It’s great recognition for the high quality of our PE department and sports clubs. We believe every child gets something out of sport and our motto is to prioritise teamwork and sportsmanship in a fun environment. We try to give as many children as possible a chance to do as well as they possibly can.”
March of the Living won the Sam Bulka Maccabi GB Community Fun Run Award. March of the Living UK is a six-day educational journey where UK Students, Young Adults and Adults join the best educators and remarkable survivors to learn about 1,000 years of Jewish life in Poland and the devastation of the Holocaust. The journey builds up to the International March of the Living event where the UK delegation joins thousands of Jewish people, from over 40 countries around the world, to share in a once in a lifetime experience marching the three kilometres from Auschwitz to Birkenau.
Forty participants raised £4,000 at the Community Fun Run, including Holocaust survivors Mala Tribich, Eve Kugler, Alfred Garwood, Agnes Kaposi, Arek and Jean Hersh and Harry Olmer.
MOTL UK CEO Cassie Matus commented: “It was an honour to walk 1k alongside Holocaust survivors and our alumni. For the survivors, and for us, it is so important that we raise money in order to continue educating by taking people to Poland; to understand the world and the lives that were lost during the Holocaust.
“Planning is now in full swing for our 10thAnniversary March of the Living UK next year, which includes a special day to Bergen-Belsen in Germany.”
MACCABI GB SPORTS AWARDS WINNERS 2019 ROLL OF HONOUR
UJIA EUROPEAN MACCABI GAMES JUNIOR AWARD:
UJIA EUROPEAN MACCABI GAMES OPEN AWARD:
Men’s Open Football
UJIA EUROPEAN MACCABI GAMES MASTERS AWARD:
PAN AMERICAN MACCABI GAMES AWARD:
SUSAN HALTER ELITE ATHLETE AWARD:
OUTSTANDING OVERSEAS ATHLETE AWARD:
JOHN DYMANT JCC MACCABI GAMES AWARD:
FRED WORMS OUTSTANDING VOLUNTEER AWARD:
KEN GRADON RACHMANUS AWARD:
RICHARD URBAN LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT:
THE JC SCHOOL SPORTS AWARD:
SAM BULKA MACCABI GB COMMUNITY FUN RUN AWARD:
March of the Living UK