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AUSSIE RULES

Beersheba hosts AFL Anzac event

It is hoped it will become an annual event, and it served as a handy warm-up event for players in the Israeli Beasts men's national team heading to the 2023 AFL Euro Cup...

Daniel Ferrai (left), the great-great-grandson of William Cooper, presents team Israel Blue's Eitan Potash with the William Cooper Medal. In the background are AFL Israel co-founders Ido Schnitzer (left) and Shir Shalev.
Daniel Ferrai (left), the great-great-grandson of William Cooper, presents team Israel Blue's Eitan Potash with the William Cooper Medal. In the background are AFL Israel co-founders Ido Schnitzer (left) and Shir Shalev.

A curious, but highly entertained, crowd of several hundred witnessed the first ever international Aussie Rules football matches played on Israeli soil, on April 29 in Beersheba, for the inaugural AFL Israel Anzac tournament.

The event began in the afternoon with a tour of the Beersheba Anzac Memorial Centre for the four participating teams, and wreath laying at the Commonwealth War Cemetery.

Then, at a sunset pre-match ceremony, attended by special guests including Governor of Victoria Linda Dessau, and Australia’s ambassador to Israel Ralph King, the Last Post was played.

After the preliminary round, Israel Blue earned bronze by toppling Australia-Europe 80-35, and in a thrilling grand final, Australia-UAE edged Israel White 38-31.

Jewish Melburnians who played in the tournament – while on various Israel programs – included Saul Alford, Avi Segman, Ayden Maron, and Eitan Potash.

Potash – AJAX Footy Club’s Sunday Thirds men’s team 2022 Best & Fairest player – sported Israel Blue’s jersey, and received the William Cooper Medal for best player for Israel in the tournament.

The event was possible due to hosts AFL Israel, and event partners and sponsors including Beersheba City Council, the Beersheba Anzac Memorial Centre, the Australian Embassy in Israel, Trans-Tasman Business Circle and its chief executive Tanya Oziel, the Israel-Australia Chamber of Commerce, and several Israel-based companies.

It is hoped it will become an annual event, and it served as a handy warm-up event for players in the Israeli Beasts men’s national team heading to the 2023 AFL Euro Cup in October in Germany.

Israeli Beasts co-captain and AFL Israel co-founder, Shir Shalev, said, “It was an incredible feeling to compete in the first Aussie Rules international matches in Israel, in front of a supportive crowd.

“Ido [Schnitzer, fellow AFL Israel co-founder] and I would like to say thanks to all the event partners, the umpires, and all the Aussie players who travelled from Europe, the UAE, and elsewhere, showing us just how much they love the game.”

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