Leeds and Birmingham Jewish students played off in a fundraiser football match in support of World Jewish Relief’s Ukraine Appeal.
Weetwood Hall recently hosted a rare inter- university Jewish football event as Leeds University’s Hapoel Hyde Park took on Birmingham’s Maccabi Selly Oak.
Organised by Hapoel’s Jack Isaacs and Aaron Black, the clash of the clubs combined the pair’s ambitions to go head-to-head with a fellow Jewish team while using football as a voice in aid of World Jewish Relief’s Ukraine Appeal.
Although Jack and Aaron initially aimed to raise £500 for the “WJR Game for Ukraine” event, the total funds have almost hit £1800. “Both myself and Jack took a significant time out of our studies right before our end of year assessments to ensure the match was successfully coordinated,” said Aaron. “By partnering up with
Leeds University’s Jewish chaplaincy, sports facilities, and the Union of Jewish Students, we were able to provide a site for the event, free drinks, and extra donations for all students who attended.”
With match day also falling on the date of Yom Hashoah, the event was even more poignant as players and supporters of both sides remembered what the Jewish community faced during the Holocaust, while celebrating the community’s ability to come together in the years since.
“Our fellow Leeds student, Anatole Ferrera, presented a moving speech and a minute’s silence before kick-off,” said Aaron. “The moment emphasised that the past should not be forgotten, and that in present times we are not silent and act when we see people in need.
“By relating history with current affairs, Anatole brought awareness to the current situation overseas, highlighting that it is important as ever that we stand with the people of Ukraine during their time of need.”
Maccabi Selly Oak’s 2v1 win was a fine margin compared to the huge amount of funds both teams have raised. Encouraging words from high profile football faces have also motivated Jack and Aaron throughout the project, including some from none other than England Head Coach Gareth Southgate, and Watford FC goalkeeper Ben Foster.
“The success of this event and fundraiser brilliantly showcased the ability of Jewish students to bring people together and help those in need through sport,” said Aaron. “Hopefully this meeting of two teams sets the stage for the progression of Jewish university sports into something more universal across the country. It’s an initiative I’ll continue to drive into my final year.”
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