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Brooklyn, NY - Orthodox And Caribbean Players From Crown Heights Set For Soccer Rematch

Published on: March 23, 2012 10:50 AM
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Soccer for Harmony, named by a rabbi and a soccer coach in Crown Heights, launched its first tournament featuring Caribbean, African-American and Jewish players on a frigid, December day in 2011Soccer for Harmony, named by a rabbi and a soccer coach in Crown Heights, launched its first tournament featuring Caribbean, African-American and Jewish players on a frigid, December day in 2011

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 Sunday’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 Harmony’s inaugural tournament in December - dispelling a few stereotypes about the players, many of them devout Yeshiva students from Israel, along the way.

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“We never heard of them being involved in soccer,” said Frank Nicholas, who coaches the Caribbean team, part of the Central Brooklyn Soccer League. “We figured it might be an easy game. We figured they’re probably not as good. But we got surprised.

“My guys can learn a lot from them,” he said. “We’ll be a little stronger, a little quicker, a little faster. We’ll try to win this time.”

Not if the Jewish team from Mendy’s Deli on Eastern Parkway has anything to say about it.

“We’ll fight on the field. We’re going to bring everything we’ve got,” said Nathan Abikasis, 29.

“We are small and skinny, and they’re bigger,” he said. “Then we realized that we’ve got the technique.”

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.

“They both love soccer. That’s one of the things that can bring them together. They’re different, but that’s one thing they have in common,” 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.

“It’s a universal game, no matter where you go. You don’t even have to understand the language, you can play soccer,” Nicholas said.

But the sense of camraderie won’t dampen the fierce competition. “This 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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Read Comments (3)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Mar 23, 2012 at 10:57 AM shredready Says:

good hope it brings some harmony in their community

2

 Mar 23, 2012 at 06:02 PM Renegade Says:

I'll bet none of the Lubavitchers involved grew up in the US...

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 Mar 24, 2012 at 04:45 PM Proud770 Says:

Reply to #2  
Renegade Says:

I'll bet none of the Lubavitchers involved grew up in the US...

You could be right, only because few Americans of any bent really play soccer well whereas the Israelis learning in 770 do know how to play.

However, those of us who have served Am Yisroel as camp counselors in the former Soviet Union probably know how to play as well. I've visited the summer camps but I can't remember if they played soccer at any of them and if the counselors joined in or knew how to join in.

I actually saw a pickup cricket match between Australian or South African Lubavitchers and local Caribbean immigrants when I was in Crown Heights.

4

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