The Maccabi Masters League kicks off its sixteenth season this weekend with three new teams joining the veterans’ division, writes Jeremy Silverstone.
Chigwell Athletic and HMH are both making their first foray into Masters’ football, whilst Faithfold are returning to the fold after a two-year absence.
These three join reigning champions North London Raiders, Brady Maccabi A, Waldaf Town and a newly-amalgamated Scrabble Harmen (formerly Scrabble and Southgate Harmen) to complete an expanded Division 1, which provides for players over 33.
The more senior players can also play in Division 2, with a lower age limit of 43, and a further eight teams are competing in this division.
Defending champions, Glenthorne United, will again face stiff competition from Maccabi London Lions, EDRS Stonegrove and St John’s Wood Tigers, whilst Brady Maccabi B, Hendon Harriers, Temple Fortune and Zigzag Marshside will all be looking to upset the odds and take a few scalps, as they did on several occasions last season.
This season will also see no fewer than three cup competitions for some Masters teams, as well as having a representative side in the Peter Morrison Trophy. The Henry Swerner Cup is open to all the Division 1 teams plus – by invitation – selected teams from Division 2, whilst the Nathan Horwitz Division 2 Trophy, as its title suggests, is restricted to teams from the older section. And the MGBSFL-MMFL Invitation Trophy, being played for the second season, provides an opportunity for team from the Maccabi Men’s league to pit themselves against Masters teams, in a format that proved hugely popular in its inaugural season.
At the helm of the Masters League is the indomitable Stuart Lustigman, founder and Chairman of the MMFL and its driving force since its inception, and despite its occasional tribulations, he maintains his passion for what he describes as the ‘privilege’ of playing into our forties, fifties and – in many cases (including his own) – sixties!
“Anyone who plays in the Maccabi Masters League is competitive by nature,” says Stuart, “but we try to make sure that all games are played in a sportsmanlike spirit, and the onus is on having fun. We play on the very best pitches – including the new pitch at Edgware Town FC this season – and we have a fine panel of referees. The only concession we make to age is the roll-on, roll-off substitutions.”
“We’re also delighted that we’ll be taking teams to Israel once again in October, and to Chile in December and January, to compete in the Pan American Maccabi Games; these are always wonderful tours, and remind us that our community extends way beyond our own borders. And indeed our own support of the One Family charity, which provides funding and support for the victims of terrorism and injured Israeli soldiers and their families, further demonstrates that community focus.”
The Maccabi Masters Football League always welcomes new teams and players; for details contact Stuart Lustigman at StuartLustigman@aol.com