Despite coming away from the Queensmead Sports Centre having been defeated 23-9 by Ruislip Eagles in a friendly, the overriding tale of the game centers on the fact that Maccabi GB made history on Sunday as they fielded the first all-Jewish Handball team for a game – in this instance, a pre-season friendly.
Although many of the players had only taken up the sport in the summer – and some after taking part in the MGB Handball Taster Day in May – this was not apparent as the side more-than-matched their experienced opponents in the First Half, before fatigue set in after the break.
The team fell behind early to a well-worked and powerful goal and a second one followed, which appeared to be a wake-up call to MGB Handball. Anthony Tropp – an ex-England international and the most experienced player in the squad – had the honour of becoming the first person to score a goal for the Club, taking a ball on left court and diving into the area to manoeuvre it past the Ruislip ‘keeper.
From this point onwards, Maccabi GB traded blows with the Eagles, with the latter’s movement and physicality becoming an issue for the former. Impressive goals from Captain, Dean Caplin, and Alex Elf had their opponents palpably surprised and they fired back in kind, smashing in four more past rookie ‘keeper, Joshua Pinhass. Despite this, the score would have been a lot more had it not been for Pinhass’ numerous saves and the physicality of Playmaker, Daniel Sichel and Pivot, Adam Goldman.
More goals followed for both teams with Sichel adding to the debut scorers and Liam Stein setting up Player-Manager, Adam Goldsmith, whose leap into the area ended up with another score for Maccabi GB. Stein, who was having an impressive game all day, added another one before the end of the half. MGB were pleased to go in at the break with a tight score of 10-7 against, but perhaps could have been honours-even, had Elf and Caplin not added to the tally whilst clean through.
The Community’s top Handball Team would have liked a repeat of the first 30 minutes, however, in the Second Half, that was not to be. Whether it was the fatigue that set in, or the increasing deficit that was opening up which was forcing MGB’s players to take unnecessary shots, the boys in white capitulated, allowing for Ruislip to rain down the goals. Despite Pinhass moving further up court (to be replaced by Tropp), Winger, Joey Carr working hard at both ends of the court, and impressive goals from Sichel and Elf, the final score read Ruislip Eagles 23 – 9 Maccabi GB Handball.
Maccabi GB Handball Club Player-Manager, Adam Goldsmith, said after the game, “The result today was almost unimportant. The players can feel immense pride for what they did out there on the court. A lot of the opposition play one or two divisions higher and we matched them for half a game. However, our greatest achievement today was getting a squad of all-Jewish players together to compete in a game. This is what the players should be proud of the most. I have no doubt we will improve each time we play.”
The team will compete in two more pre-season friendlies before their campaign in the London Handball Regional Development League 2 begins on Sunday 19th October.
Dean Caplin (Captain)
Adam Goldsmith (Player/Manager)
Maccabi GB Handball is still recruiting for players. Jewish athletes over the age of 16, and have good athletic ability, are encouraged to visit www.maccabigb.org/handball, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0208 457 2333 for more info. No experience is necessary as Handball is a very easy game to pick up.