A British teacher’s hopes of winning a World Cup medal with the Israel women’s lacrosse team at this year’s tournament in Canada has been jeopardised after they refused a ruling that they must play a vital match on Shabbat.
Nicole Sawdaye, from Mill Hill, London, is the only British member of the Israeli team playing in the event and qualifies through her Israeli mother.
But they are in danger of missing their final placement game as one of the top eight teams, which could be for a medal or a play-off for fifth or seventh place, because the International Lacrosse Federation have ruled those matches must take place tomorrow Nicole, who teaches at Belmont Preparatory School, said: "By refusing to play the match we will forfeit it and the other team would be awarded a 1-0 victory and be placed ahead of us in the final World Cup standings. Prior to the tournament schedule being drawn up Israel requested not to play matches on a Shabbat and both the FIL and tournament hosts in Canada agreed to our request for the ‘pool play’ games.
"But at the end of last month they told us their decision was final and we must play the game or forfeit it."
The FIL say that they cannot reschedule any placement game as a team may only play one match a day and the event must end with the gold medal match on Sunday.
Israel are now hoping that any scheduled opponent will compete against them in exhibition game at the Oshawa Civic Centre near Toronto today, but the result would not be recognised by the FIL.
Some 19 nations have competed in the event and Israel, in their first ever World Cup have won all three pool games against Germany, Scotland and South Korea, ensuring their place in championship bracket of the tournament. A spokesman for the Israel Lacrosse Association said: “We cannot ignore that a reasonably large percentage of our nations’ people, our teams’ players, and our associations’ members and supporters would be offended if we took the field on Shabbat.”
Nicole said: “I have been playing lacrosse since I was at school at North London Collegiate and then
Nottingham University and I play for Hatch End Hawks.
"Lacrosse is a big part of my life in London but I found out about the Israel Lacross Association by chance when I googled it just to know if I could ever play there if I decided to move to Israel. They have only been going for three years and I have been involved from the beginning, even attending their very first practice on Tel Aviv beach!
"This is Israel’s first ever venture into the World Cup and we feel we have y exceeded all our expectations and loved every minute of the experience, but we had hoped to go as far as possible in it."