Hakoah achieves a futsal first

Hakoah men’s captain Robbie Ezekiel in action. Photo: Dan Ullman

A YEAR ago, Hakoah Eastern Suburbs Futsal Club celebrated its greatest achievement since its establishment in 1997 – winning the Futsal NSW Premier League 2 club championship, earning it promotion to the top league.

Now the club is turning heads with its success on debut in Premier League 1, with five of its teams remaining in contention for the finals with just one round left to be played this Saturday, and Hakoah currently coming equal fourth of eight, on 120 points alongside Campbelltown City Quake, in the 2018-19 club championship race.

Hakoah Futsal president Daniel Sharp told The AJN the club has “surprised all” with extraordinary results across the divisions, from boys’ and girls’ U11s right up to open men’s and women’s.

“[We’re] presently coming [equal] fourth – this has never been achieved before by any club that has been promoted [to Premier League 1],” Sharp said.

“This season we have uncovered some superstars – and already, plans are underway for next season.”

In the ladies’ competitions, Hakoah is coming first in the 15s, fourth in the 17s and fifth in the open women’s.

Talented keeper Jordan Weizman has played a big role in the senior teams’ success, featuring in six games in the open women’s division and 12 games in the 17s.

Sharp reserved special praise for 10-year-old Gemma Odes for playing consistently well in the U12s and for playing a recent game for the 13s – a team featuring Erin Gordon, who Sharp describes as “probably the best defender in the whole competition”.

“This is Erin’s third season with us, and her quality was evidenced a few weeks ago when she was selected to play for our 15s. It was a massive step up in both age, quality and pressure, and she handled it brilliantly.”

Hakoah’s 15 girls’ team – featuring Jewish players including Gordon, Lila Greenberg, and Ronit and Sophie Goldman – have already sealed the minor premiership with 10 wins, one draw and only two losses.

“This is a new team created at the beginning of the season from four existing players and five players that trialled with us, and they’ve beaten every team in the league,” Sharp said.

“They are so good that every player that trialled for the state team a few weeks ago made it.”

The club’s boys’ and men’s teams are also performing strongly. The open men’s team is coming seventh but was on par with the top teams in the first half of the season, and the 19s [youth] team – starring Jewish players like Tal Weiner, Jake Besser and Elliot Lipschitz – are equal fourth with Mountain Majik.

Hakoah’s 16 boys’ side is faring even better, in third position. “This team is spearheaded by [Jewish players] Zac Sapsford, Adam Strasser and Noah Feilich,” Sharp said, adding that despite a chunk of the squad missing six games due to attending study or sport trips to Israel, the team is almost certain to qualify for next month’s finals.

Sharp said a recent stint at the club by two professional women’s players from Brazil proved highly beneficial to Hakoah players across all age groups.

“The finest player, however, that the club has is Robbie Ezekiel – coach of our youth team and captain of our men’s team. He is easily odds-on favourite to be the next Jewish Futsalroo.”

Meanwhile, Jewish players for the Mascot Vipers have also excelled in Premier League 1 this season.

Chani Charak played eight games for the sixth-placed Vipers in open women’s.

Goalkeeper Oskar Beck played one game for Mascot in open men’s, and 13 games in that club’s 19s (youth) side that is coming first.

Ethan de Melo also played eight games for Mascot’s 19s – scoring 13 goals – and also played eight games for the 16s, who are coming first.

SHANE DESIATNIK

Hakoah’s 15s girls’ team has sealed the minor premiership in Futsal NSW Premier League 1 ahead of the finals series.