Last week Miri Regev, Aliza Lavie and other female Knesset members were playing soccer against a bunch of teenagers! Why were they wearing T-shirts and shorts playing games instead of doing their jobs at the Knesset? Well, they actually were working by doing Hasbara for an upcoming women’s soccer tournament in Israel, giving the tournament publicity within the mainstream of Israeli society.
Beginning on July 15th, Israel will be hosting the UEFA European Under 19 Women’s Championship featuring continental soccer powers such as Spain, France, England and Norway. This will be a wonderful opportunity to see some of the up and coming young women on the heels of the FIFA Women’s World Cup that just took place in Canada.
The competition in Israel will be a celebration of soccer and of course the advancement of women in the realm of sports. It will be a chance to see the “beautiful game” being played in its purest form on the lush pitches in Lod, Ramla, Rishon Le’Zion and Netanya.
While it’s good to know that MK Miri Regev, the new sports minister is excited about women’s soccer, word needs to continue to be spread around the country. Not only is the Under 19 team comprised of Israelis but there are a number of young women from North America with the club who have left their families behind to pursue their dream of playing soccer and doing so in the Holy Land.
The starting goalkeeper is Hannah Boshari who hails from Toronto, Canada and came to Israel about a year ago to train with the team and prepare for this chance of a lifetime. Boshari had to leave her parents, attend high school and work on her soccer skills all while being in Israel. This not only speaks volumes for Hannah but also for her family as well.
Boshari played in the Maccabiah Games in Israel back in 2013 and was spotted by an Israeli scout who was in touch with her coach in Toronto in February 2014 and the rest is history. Hannah believes that Israel has a chance to surprise some people as their team has been together for two years and has trained and played together game in and game out. Other countries only get together a week here and a week there to work as one unit. The Israel U19 team also took a bronze medal at a recent tournament in Russia which has also raised some expectations as they hope to catch some of the great countries off guard.
Another North American player is Lauren Goetzman from Los Angeles who recently joined the squad in preparation for the tournament. Her father Greg told me that it’s an honor for Lauren to participate and it was all her decision. Lauren thinks that Israel will surprise some of the other countries as they don’t know what will hit them.
MK Regev said to me prior to the match that there aren’t enough female athletes in Israel and she wants to see more women participating in sports. She would like to increase funding for these activities and looks at the Under-19 tournament as a great opportunity for young women to get more involved with sports and hopes that this will be an impetus for them to do so.
It should come as no surprise that the U19 side defeated the Knesset members 3-0 but the real winners will be young women, sports enthusiasts and the general public who will be more aware of women in sports here in Israel!