Team GB will take a 12-man Water Polo squad to compete at this summer’s 19th Maccabiah Games.
The side’s talent pool is overflowing, featuring some of the best players in the country, and managing to blend youth with experience. Included in the squad are two Maccabiah debutants, Josh Brown and Jared Baker, who both play at a top level in the British National Water Polo League.
Joining them is David Lewis, who played for GB as an 18-year-old in 1997 and has since been playing at a high standard in Australia.
The side will be hoping that leading talent, James Kattan, will be fit in time for 18th July as he is recovering from recent keyhole surgery on his shoulder.
Maccabi GB will be lead by one of the top Water Polo coaches, Nikola Jovanovic. Jovanovic’s CV is one of the most impressive in the Team GB delegation.
Having played in the first division Water Polo for Serbian Club NIS Classic from 1992-2000, he went on to coach and manage the side from 2000-2005. During that time, NIS was a force to be reckoned with, as the team featured strongly in the first division, the Serbian-Montenegro Cup, LEN Cup and they won the European Water Polo League.
In 2008 he moved to the UK to become Development Officer at the London Swimming Regional Training Centre, which was followed by a role as the London 2012 Olympic Games Technical Operations Manager for Water Polo.
In preparations for Israel, the team has entered a European water polo tournament in Mallorca, Spain just two weeks before they leave for Israel. Most of the squad and the GB Management Team will be travelling to Spain for what should be ideal preparation against teams from Spain, England and Germany.
GB player Neil Haftal said: “The more experienced players in the squad, who have been to previous Maccabiot, are under no illusion of the tough task that faces us in Israel. Water Polo is a major sport in Israel, USA, Hungary and Brazil with many of their squads playing full time. We are, however, boosted by securing the experienced Serbian coach, Nikola Jovanovic, and some fantastic talent in the side.
“Playing for Maccabi GB at the Maccabiah Games is one of the greatest honours you can have as a British Jew and I know that all the boys will enjoy themselves, whether they’ve been before or are going to Israel for the first time."
Jared Baker (18)
Started playing at HABS. Has represented county and regional level for under-18 and trained with the Great Britain team. Started playing for Maccabi GB in 2008 and has since played for Watford and Polytechnic. Currently playing in the British National League First Division.
Steve Behr (40)
Started playing at HABS. Played under-16 for North England Students then with Polytechnic in 1st Division National League for eight years (1998 - 2005). Past Maccabiot: 1989, 1993 and 1997.
Ashley Blake (32, Goalkeeper)
Started playing at HABS. Represented Middlesex and Southern Counties and invited to train with England. Played at University of Birmingham and Penguin Juniors.
Josh Brown (21)
Played at City of London School (2003-2009), Polytechnic (2007-2011), Durham, Team Northumbria (2011-current) and University (2010-present). Top-scorer in the British National League Championship Division Two this year.
Arron Gould (16)
Played in the ESSA (National League). Under-14 and under-16 winner and was recently a finalist in the under-18 age group. Trains with the Manchester Water Polo Club Men's team and regularly trains with the GB National Women's team.
Neil Haftel (57)
Started playing at Harrow at both local and National League level. Currently plays for Watford in the National, London and Middlesex Leagues. Past Maccabiot: 1973, 1977 (Swimming) 1989, 1993 and 2005 (Water Polo).
Dan Kattan (36)
Started playing at HABS and has played for Herts County, Southern Counties and Manchester University, where he won the BUSA Championship. Playing in Middlesex, Herts and London Leagues since 1993 with Maccabi GB and now Watford. Past Maccabiot: 1993, 1997 and 2005
James Kattan (32)
Started playing at HABS. Has represented County, Regional and International all at U18 Level. Played National League Division 1 with Hammersmith Penguins before University, now playing with Watford and Maccabi GB. Past Maccabiot: 1997 and 2005
Sammy Kattan (35)
Started playing at HABS. Represented County and Regional at under-18 level. Played at Leeds University. Currently living in Israel. Past Maccabiah: 1997
David Lewis (33)
Started playing at Highgate School. Represented Southern Counties and captained Middlesex. He also played for Penguin Juniors as well as representing the University of Massachussets at the NCAA Division One Final Four Water Polo Championships. He currently plays for the UNSW Wests Magpies in the Sydney Metro League. Past Maccabiah: 1997
Yakov Sadovskii (28)
Started playing in Canada at age 11. Played two seasons in the French National League, followed by two seasons with Ealing in British National league. Currently plays for Watford in the National, London and Middlesex Leagues.
Gyorgy Szemere (35)
Started in Hungary aged seven for KSI. Played for the University of Birmingham and Maccabi GB in 1996. Played for a year in German Team, Essen06. Trained with London Polytechnic in preparation for the Maccabiah games in 2005. Currently plays for Zurich City Water Polo team in the Swiss First Division, East National League and Second Division North National League (2nd XI). Past Maccabiah: 2005