LESS THAN a week after staging the world’s third-largest sporting event, Israel played host to the world’s best footballer – and team – as Barcelona made a whistle-stop visit to Israel as part of a ‘Peace Tour’ at the weekend. The likes of Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique, Xavi and Andrés Iniesta stopped off at the Western Wall, donned kippot and placed notes in the wall. However, it was the time they spent with child cancer sufferers at Kfar Maccabiah which was the more significant visit. Signing autographs and posing for pictures with the children, some of whom are wheelchair-bound, the trip also saw the players hold a football training clinic for Israeli and Palestinian children at Tel Aviv’s Bloomfield Stadium. The aim of the visit was to bring a message of peace for Israel and the Palestinians and it certainly generated a lot of good will and feeling. Whether it has any bearing on finding peace in the region, well that’s a whole different ball game.
THE MACCABIAH may be over, but the legacy of the Games continues. Following on from his heroics in goal for the U16 football team, goalkeeper Jake Lewis was still celebrating winning an historic gold medal when he was asked to stay on in Israel for an extra week – along with his family – at the request of Maccabi Haifa. Impressed by his performances, club scouts said they wanted to take a look at him, with Lewis’ family apparently ‘considering things’.
WITH ALL the excitement of the closing stages of the Maccabiah, a couple of errors managed to slip through into last week’s paper. So to clarify, the fourth winning member of Team GB’s track & field team was Jack Reece, and Team GB won 40 medals at the 2009 Games.