We lost 17-0 to Argentina, and next up it's Ronaldo’s son

Gibraltar’s futsal team is having a tough time at the Maccabiah Games, but their excitement is undimmed


The tiny British overseas territory of Gibraltar has dispatched two futsal teams to the 2017 Maccabiah Games, held in Israel.

Futsal, a fast-paced indoor version of football, is a popular game in the Jewish community in Gibraltar, which numbers about 800.

Jo Abergel’s 14-year-old son, Daniel, is the youngest member of the junior team. “We’re a small country and could put together a delegation of just 20,” says Ms Abergel, who was the national director of Maccabi GB before moving to Gibraltar 16 years ago. “But we were in the opening ceremony and hope to put Gibraltar on the map.”

The junior team will play six games; it has already lost 18-1 to Mexico 17-0 to Argentina. “The Mexico team were a lot bigger and stronger than us,” says Daniel. Some of the junior team couldn’t train together before the games as some are studying in the UK. “It’s all about taking part,” adds Ms Abergel.

The juniors have just found out that Ronald, the 17-year-old son of Brazil’s legendary football player Ronaldo, will play for the Brazil team, facing the Gibraltar junior team on Thursday. Although Ronald does not appear to be Jewish, he has been allowed to compete. He has been a member of Sao Paulo’s Hebraica, a type of club popular across South America that is a cross between a Jewish community centre and a country club.

“I’m quite nervous – but we hope to score a few goals,” says Daniel.

“I’m sure it’s daunting – knowing Daniel he’s probably quite excited and will want an autograph,” says Ms Abergel.

The opening ceremony in Jerusalem has been Daniel’s highlight so far – as well as meeting other teams. A record 10,000 athletes from 80 countries are competing in 43 sports at the world’s third-largest sporting event, according to the games’ organisers.

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