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We should make a song and dance about the 20th Maccabiah Games

With only a couple of days left before we set off for Israel, I’ve been putting the finishing touches to the all-important musical playlist that will help keep spirits high – win or lose – at the 20th Maccabiah Games in Israel.

    My eldest daughter, Ella, has been familiarising me with the wonders of Spotify. Now I’m hooked! In the words of Coldplay lead vocalist Chris Martin, we are ready for the adventure of a lifetime.

    I’ve been training hard, arguably harder than for my two previous Maccabiahs, having recovered from a ghastly six-month bout of labyrinthitis. I feel like a new man after visiting the gym around six days a week since December and, like my Team Maccabi GB Open Cricket team-mates, am ready  for lift off, knowing we can be heroes.

    There is a steely determination about the Cricket squad, which I believe has a great blend of youth and experience. We cannot wait for the action to get under way.

    With four 40-year-olds in the squad, one in his 30’s, the majority in their 20’s and one teenager, we may not always agree on which tunes are blasted out over the speakers en route to matches. After all, I’ve only just heard of Elbow. But no doubt, there will always be one or two needing a shluff in the corner of the team bus. No names mentioned.

    This is the calm before the storm. The action will be fast and furious on the cricket field. We’ve trained hard, although you can never be fully prepared to cope with the heat for seven-hour matches and the pitches. Expect the unexpected. That’s what I’ve told one or two of the newcomers whom I will be overflowing with a variety of emotions whilst represent their country in a real show of love and support for Israel.

    The financial side of these Games have been a real issue for so many athletes across the board. The cost has spiralled out of control and I hope these issues are prioritised by the organisers and supporting nations to ensure the future of the Games are secured.

    Shoe designer Stuart Weitzman bankrolled Team USA four years ago and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has dug deep to support the Russian delegation this time.

    The team at Maccabi GB have done an incredible job to ensure such healthy numbers attend the Games. Afterall, they are providing a life-changing experience for many - especially the ones that have met their match off the field of play, including table tennis stalwart Dov Katz.

    Our focus is now on our opening match against hosts Israel on Wednesday which follows two days of pre-camp. Then there’s the Opening Ceremony which can only be described as an ‘I was there’ moment. There are simply no words that can do justice to the biggest simcha of them all. It's sure to be a beautiful day. Just thinking about it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. There is no prouder feeling than marching out with 10,000 Jewish athletes into a packed stadium. We can be heroes, just for one day.

    Good luck to everyone representing Great Britain. Let’s just hope there’s no need to always look on the bright side of life at the end of the competition. 

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