Among the athletes participating in the 20th Maccabiah Games in Israel in July, the U.S. delegation will include a futsal team. Futsal is similar to soccer, but played on a field the size of a basketball court with five players on each side.
Last year, at the Pan American Maccabi Games in Chile, the team came fourth, losing the bronze medal in penalty kicks to the host after a 3-3 draw.
At the 2013 Games, the team included four players from Greater Philadelphia, in addition to Coach Michael Monheit. Practicing in King of Prussia, the current team only has one local: goalkeeper Ethan Clearfield, who played in Chile as well.
The team is trying to raise $10,000 to ease the burden on the players. Monheit said that “for a number of players the competition and experience will not be possible” without this help:
For many of them, it will be their first trip to Israel and it will be a visit that will change their lives. I assure you, this will be the most significant connection in each of their lives so far to their Jewish heritage.
Currently, the team has raised about $2,000. Monheit said that “every dollar counts towards making it possible for these players to be able to join the team.”