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Haifa Highlights! The top moments from an immense junior campaign!

Posted: 17-Jul-2017 by Maccabiah

By Jake Rosengarten

After a whirlwind few weeks of junior sport, things are finally winding to a close in Haifa. Come from behind victories, underdog journeys and medal joy have highlighted a massive few weeks for our youngest contingent of athletes.

Without further ado, here are the top five moments from a massively impressive cohort of junior athletes.

Youth Boys Football strike late to oust Argentina

The tone was set for the entirety of the games as our youth boys footballers pulled off one of the great upset victories on the opening day. Facing up against South American powerhouse Argentina to start their campaign, no one gave the Aussies a hope, but Mark Gannon’s side had other ideas.

Despite conceding early, the boys in the green and gold struck back before the half through the head of Saul Lotzoff. As the minutes ticked by, the scene was set for someone to step up and snatch a famous victory.

Cue captain Jordi Swibel sweeping in at the near post in the final minutes to steal a win for Australia! Elation for the Aussies! What a victory!

On that note, it was marvellous to be able to spread the news that Swibel, through his sheer quality at Maccabiah, has earned a trial with Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv! Congratulations young man, and good luck on your footballing journey – well deserved.

Junior Girls Football make history

No Australian junior girls football side had ever made it out of the group stage at Maccabiah – but that didn’t stop Tony Dunn and his side setting off on a journey to achieve just that. And what a ride it was!

It began with a wonderful 4-0 victory over Brazil, before the girls were brought back down to Earth by the might of the eventual gold medallists USA. It was make or break in the final match of the group stage as the Aussies took on Sweden.

They went down 1-0 early but showed true Aussie spirit to rally home for a huge 2-1 victory and write their names in the history books! Goals to Lara Joffe and Rachel Kochen ensured that they would compete for a medal – the first junior girls side ever to do so!

Unfortunately, two subsequent losses to strong Israeli and Canadian outfits denied the girls a medal, but what a side they were and it was a pleasure being a part of the journey!

The Cricket Journey

No one gave our junior cricketers a chance – some believed they would’t win a game.

But Brett Corrick’s side did a lot more than that. Undefeated through the group stage and a silver medal to boot! These boys had an average age of 14 in an under 18s competition and showed maturity far beyond their years.

Vinnie Page and 13-year-old player of the tournament Adam Cavenor were the standout players for a side who outshone all expectations in a marvellous campaign.

I’ve never seen a more passionate and invested coach than Brett Corrick and it is a testament to him how his boys beat the odds to have one of the outstanding campaigns in the entirety of Maccabiah.

What a group of boys and what a result.

Netballing redemption

In 2013, our junior netballers were infamously beaten by Great Britain in the gold medal match. This time around, Suzie Mordech’s side were out for redemption as they breezed through the group stage undefeated to set up a grand final rematch with the Brits.

No one was quite sure what to expect as the girls lined up for the decider. But it was a testament to this group of wonderful young women who stuck together until the end and came through as big winners at a final score of 51-27 – and it was nice to see them celebrate with their open counterparts after they too sealed the gold.

Congratulations on your gold medal Suzie and girls!

Junior Tennis stars long slog for bronze

While all of the above are team feel good stories, it was actually a group of plucky young tennis stars who were just about the most impressive at the Games.

For those who don’t know, at Maccabiah, in order to medal in junior tennis, a player has to win ten plus matches over a week-long period. Meaning, these young kids take to the court up to three times a day, slogging out for multiple hours at a time, in 30+ degree Haifa heat.

I can tell you, having spectated, it is very very very hot out there!

To watch a group of Aussie players push their bodies to their absolute limits in pursuit of tennis glory was a real sight to see.

Congratulations to Arthur Kaganovitch who claimed a bronze in the mixed doubles with his Israeli partner Ofer, as well as a bronze in boys doubles with fellow Aussie Josh Kaplan. Lara Kaplan grabbed a bronze in girls doubles alongside her Canadian partner and fell just short of bronze in girl’s singles – finishing fourth.

Well done to all the tennis players who braved the heat to perform so admirably!

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