Brooklyn, NY - Orthodox And Caribbean Players From Crown Heights Set For Soccer Rematch
Brooklyn, NY - Crown Heights Caribbean soccer players trounced by a squad of Orthodox Jews last year are itching for a rematch this weekend.
But while competitive juices are flowing in advance of Sundayâ€™s game, organizers say the game is about promoting harmony in the historically divided neighborhood.
The Orthodox Jews handily defeated two Caribbean teams at Soccer for Harmonyâ€™s inaugural tournament in December - dispelling a few stereotypes about the players, many of them devout Yeshiva students from Israel, along the way.
â€śWe never heard of them being involved in soccer,â€ť said Frank Nicholas, who coaches the Caribbean team, part of the Central Brooklyn Soccer League. â€śWe figured it might be an easy game. We figured theyâ€™re probably not as good. But we got surprised.
â€śMy guys can learn a lot from them,â€ť he said. â€śWeâ€™ll be a little stronger, a little quicker, a little faster. Weâ€™ll try to win this time.â€ť
Not if the Jewish team from Mendyâ€™s Deli on Eastern Parkway has anything to say about it.
â€śWeâ€™ll fight on the field. Weâ€™re going to bring everything weâ€™ve got,â€ť said Nathan Abikasis, 29.
â€śWe are small and skinny, and theyâ€™re bigger,â€ť he said. â€śThen we realized that weâ€™ve got the technique.â€ť
The tournament was launched by nonprofit Seeds in the Middle, which runs a soccer program for kids at Hamilton Metz Field.
Organizers decided to start games for the adults they saw using the neighborhood field, often in separate squads.
â€śThey both love soccer. Thatâ€™s one of the things that can bring them together. Theyâ€™re different, but thatâ€™s one thing they have in common,â€ť said Brooklyn Crown Heights Eagles coach Josef Cabral.
The tournament is held in honor of Christopher Rose, a 15-year old killed by a gang trying to steal his iPod in 2005, whose dad is one of the organizers.
â€śItâ€™s a universal game, no matter where you go. You donâ€™t even have to understand the language, you can play soccer,â€ť Nicholas said.
But the sense of camraderie wonâ€™t dampen the fierce competition. â€śThis time we’re re ready for them. We’re going to give them a run for their money,” said one of the Caribbean players, Richard Campbell, 17, of East New York.
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