THERE are big plans for the biggest annual Jewish sport and social event for youth on the community calendar – the Maccabi Junior Carnival – which begins in Sydney on January 15.
The harbour city will host the week-long, 37th edition of Carnival for the first time since 2016, and will welcome 360 children aged between 12 and 16 – and a host of team youth leaders, volunteers and parents – representing Maccabi NSW, VIC, WA and QLD, plus a three-member team from New Zealand.
To showcase Sydney to the participants from interstate and across the Tasman, the event will begin in spectacular style with an evening opening ceremony on board a boat that will cruise the stunning waters between Rose Bay and the harbour bridge.
Two days are dedicated to competitive sport matches in netball, football, futsal, basketball, tennis and biathlon (swimming and running), but there will also be extra participative sports offered, without a scoreboard in sight.
Basketball will take place on Sydney’s northside, and all other sports at venues throughout the city’s eastern suburbs.
Another sporting highlight in store for all team members is the opportunity to attend clinics run by development staff from NRL reigning premiers the Sydney Roosters, AFL club the Sydney Swans, Cricket NSW and Netball NSW.
Carnival wouldn’t be carnival without daily social events and oodles of fun activities and parties, and Sydney has got all of that covered in spades.
The carnival theme this year is ‘Enjoy Summer in Sydney’ and for a whole day, everyone will be at beautiful Narrabeen Beach in the city’s north where they can relax, swim and take part in activities run by Nippers members including beach tug-of-war and first-to-the-flag.
Another whole day outing will be at Stanwell Tops nature reserve near Wollongong, south of Sydney, where there will lots of outdoor activity options including a climbing wall, a high ropes course and a flying fox ropeway.
A community day will provide volunteering opportunities with two Sydney-based Jewish not-for-profit organisations, and there will be nightly social activities throughout Carnival including dance parties with DJs, themed dress up parties, a ‘Macc-Chella’ festival and a closing ceremony.
Carnival co-manager Lynne Berson congratulated the organising committee and youth leadership volunteers – and host association Maccabi NSW and its general manager Daniel Kresner – for executing so well “what has been a massive planning exercise”, and she also thanked the many families in Sydney who are billeting athletes from interstate.
“We’re very happy with the number of kids coming to carnival in Sydney – 360 – which is actually the maximum that can be safely accommodated at the various carnival venues around the city,” Berson said.
“And we are so appreciative of the support of all the Maccabi parents and volunteers in Sydney – that spirit of volunteerism is absolutely crucial to make Carnival a success.”
“On the sport side, we are trying to bring that good old friendly interstate rivalry back to Carnival.
“But the whole social side of the event is equally important and is what the event is all about – bringing Jewish kids from all states together, and creating new memories and friendships for life.”
STATE TEAM SNAPSHOTS
It is no surprise that the host state’s team, Maccabi NSW, will field the largest squad at Carnival 2019, with 195 kids set to sport sky blue-coloured shirts.
They’ll be supported and cheered on by a large group of team NSW volunteers, youth leaders and parents.
NSW team co-manager Lara Levin said there’s plenty of enthusiasm within the NSW team, not only because Sydney is playing host for the first time in three years, but also because of a healthy contingent of 12 and 13-year-olds who will be making their Carnival debuts, including her daughter Mia.
“There are a good number of year 6 kids in our team who are really looking forward to experiencing Carnival for the first time,” she said, “and that enthusiasm is contagious.”
“Our team’s main aim is to make friends and have fun.”
Team Victoria will field the second largest team – 117 kids plus 11 youth leaders – a good mix of talented juniors who play weekly competitive sport and hope to represent Australia one day at the Maccabiah Games, and plenty of kids who are most looking forward to immersing themselves in the many social activities on offer at Carnival.
The team’s managers, David Parasol and Erez Feinberg, said the Victorian kids and all the support crew and volunteers, are pumped about Carnival and can’t wait to get to Sydney.
Parasol, who has two kids in the Victorian team, said “I grew up in a Maccabi family and have always loved the competition and camaraderie of Carnival. Some of my best friends were kids I met at carnivals around Australia, and it is great to see the next generation getting an opportunity to do the same”.
Maccabi’s team from Western Australia is 35-strong, consisting of 18 girls and 17 boys, aged between 11 and 14.
WA team co-managers Dawn Ott and Belinda Wolpert said the team’s mood is buzzing because some members will be coming to Sydney for the first time, and they can’t wait to see the city and make new Jewish friends on the other side of the continent.
“Carnival provides an opportunity for an isolated state like WA to engage with the east coast [Jewish communities] in a friendly competition where they can form friendships that go way beyond their Carnival years,” they said.
“We believe in the ethos of Maccabi, and sport playing a role in the lives of Jewish kids.”
Maccabi Queensland is sending a team of 10 kids and two youth leaders to Sydney, backed by generous donations and fundraising efforts by the Maccabi and broader Jewish community in that state.
“The kids are really excited about Carnival, and so is our team’s new manager, Michelle Rebibou, who has stepped into the role at short notice and is really embracing it,” Maccabi Queensland president Josh Magnus said.
“Our team members come from a vast area spanning 240km of coastline, from Coolangatta to Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, and Carnival is always a highlight of the year for us.
“Maccabi Queensland is very focused on continuing to connect the Jewish community through sport across our state, but we are also here for the Jewish community in general, and this year we look forward to promoting a healthy lifestyle for Jewish Queenslanders through Maccabi Life initiatives, and also doing more around senior sport.
“But in January, it’s all about the kids and Carnival!”