FORMER Australian representative Tal Karp will lead the women’s football squad to the Pan American Maccabi Games in Brazil.
Karp, who will play and coach the side, will be joined by former AJAX Amsterdam youth coach Mark Abro as her assistant in one of the strongest coaching pairings ever sent to a Maccabi event.
The team includes six players under the age of 18, eight of whom have Maccabiah experience with talent from New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.
“We aim to bring home a medal,” Karp said. “Although development of players is also clearly a priority, it is time our women’s football program made the statement that we are a country to beat.”
The team has had trouble training because players are based across the country, but they recently held a four-day training camp in Melbourne, which included a 2-1 trial-match win against 2011 Victoria Premier League champions South Melbourne.
Ironically it was Genia Avram, who made the temporary switch from South Melbourne to Maccabi for the games, who starred, scoring a brace.
“What excites me about this team is the eclectic group of players we have brought together,” Karp said.
“Our squad is made up of a number of talented young players, who bring a great deal of energy and enthusiasm into our line-up, together with several players with significant playing experience.
“We have footballers who have competed many times for Maccabi at national and international levels, and others who have never been involved with Jewish sporting teams.
“We have also – for the first time, in women’s football at least – tapped into the pool of WA talent, with five WA representatives making up our squad of 15,” Karp said.
Team manager Sydney Kahn said the trip to the Pan American Maccabi Games is a stepping stone towards the 2013 Maccabiah Games.