Israel’s under-17 flag football team secured gold in the Flag Football European Youth Championships held in Italy – despite, or perhaps due to, losing points for refusing to play on Shabbos.
Comprising mostly frum youth players, the fledgling team faced a daunting setback that threatened their playoff position when they forfeited a match against Serbia, scheduled to take place on Shabbos. Serbia was awarded a default win with a score of 35-0.
“We weren’t entirely sure we were going to make it. Throughout Shabbos, I was just davening really hard, praying that we make it. When we actually made the playoffs, I was like, ‘Great, we’re gonna take this thing,’ because so much went right leading up to this event, we just couldn’t fail here,” said team member Nate Fried.
Despite the initial setback, the team’s impressive performance in the tournament’s first game allowed them to qualify for the playoffs. Subsequently, they advanced to the finals, setting up a highly anticipated rematch against Serbia. In the final showdown, Israel emerged victorious with score of 34-13.
The triumph was particularly meaningful for Fried and his teammates, who had made respectful efforts to request a change in the game’s timing to accommodate their Shabbos observance. The team, formed just a month before the competition, underwent rigorous training at Kraft Family Field in Yerushalayim under the guidance of Gideon Reiz and Dani Eastman, both senior players for the Israeli men’s national team.
Although this marked the second year of the International Federation of American Football’s under-17 championship, it was Israel’s debut in the competition.
Source: (YWN World Headquarters – NYC)