Futsal coach Michael Monheit and the 10 young men on his team pray for two sports miracles that would allow them to stay in the competition.
BY: Michael Monheit
Rydal resident Michael Monheit is coaching the futsal open division at the 19th Maccabiah Games.
It's 7 a.m. here in Israel. We play Argentina tonight — tough game for us, as they are one of the strongest countries for futsal. In both Argentina and Brazil, kids grow up with the game similar to how we grow up with baseball or basketball in the United States.
Our 3-1 win against Cuba in our first game gave us a chance to qualify, and we almost made the most of it on Monday against Australia. We had the first goal and trailed by only 2-1 at half. But in the end, the team from down under won, 10-2. Since Cuba plays Australia just before our game, we will know if our game against Argentina will have any potential impact on the standings. Either way, this seems like a good time to reflect on my experience coaching the men's futsal team for Maccabi USA.
The 10 players that I coached have worked so hard. They were dedicated not only during the Maccabiah preparations in Israel, but also the three times we came together to practice in the six months before the games. Some players traveled from as far as California and Boston for our practices in Philadelphia and a tournament in Wildwood. Over that time, and especially during the competition so far, this kibutzat has become 10 friends, 10 brothers.
The young Jewish men that I coached also make a minyan — an assembly that derives its power from the coming together of 10 Jews. Thinking about this reminds me that each of us have power, that we each play a necessary role in complement to the others around us. Each one of us is needed by the whole. Each Jew counts and even more so when we come together.
It is said that when 10 Jews are sitting together "the Divine Presence rests amongst them." Thus, the prayer of a minyan is considered more effective than praying alone because no interceding angels are needed to raise the prayer to G‑d. Instead, the prayers are accepted immediately.
My futsal players are part of a Maccabi USA delegation numbering over 1,000 athletes who are "building Jewish pride through sports." So many minyanim were formed these past weeks as we assembled from across America on the beaches of the Yam Hatichon in Herzliya, on the salts of the Yam Hamelach, on the rocks of Mount Masada, in the triangular concrete prism of Yad Vashem and at the foot of the holy stones of Hakotel.
Now, to qualify, we need one more miracle in the Holy Land. Well, actually two more: We need to beat Argentina and we need Cuba to get at least a tie against Australia. I won't say it can't happen. Maybe when our 10 players come together for our game tonight one more prayer can be answered.