After so much build-up and anticipation, the 20th Maccabiah Games in Israel is finally upon us.
Team Maccabi GB, who have sent close to 400 athletes, managers and officials on the glory trail for the Jewish Olympics, have already begun their medal hunt. And I’m proudly representing my country for the third time in the Open Cricket competition.
But before that got under way, members of the Team Maccabi GB squad enjoyed a taste of Israel with two days of pre-camp — an important and valuable experience, especially for any newcomers to the event.
We rolled straight into our base in Akko after a smooth El Al flight from Luton, where there was a great vibe around the red, white and blue clad squad, kitted out in Joma attire. Once in Israel, the Juniors visited the UJIA projects in the deprived Galilee region to learn more about the charitable work they benefit from, and sports activities.
We bumped into the youngsters at the Ghetto Fighters House Museum - the world’s first Holocaust museum. It was eerie hearing about the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto and the museum and kibbutz which was founded by the survivors.
The activities continued with MGB General Team Manager Joel Nathan leading a memorial service, impeccably observed by the squad, which included Open Cricket captain Adam Brand reciting a poem. The service ended with a rendition of Hatikva.
We also heard inspiring stories from injured soldier Ron Levy and some of the group joined the members playing wheelchair basketball and table tennis. That was a sight to behold.
The mood in the MGB camp is excellent. There is a steely focus in my cricket squad, with us experienced folk sitting back and watching the youngsters lap up the colourful atmosphere.
We bade farewell to Haifa at the uplifting Team GB BBQ, where it was great to see the Junior cricketers, whom we have trained alongside for several months.
Don’t forget, you can get regular updates via our dedicated Maccabiah section and once the action starts, keep your eye on our Twitter account (@JewishChron) for all the latest results and round-ups.