Shalom Life | August 23, 2014

Toronto Youth Support Sports for Needy in Haifa

Neve Yossef Soccer Club supported by GTA basketball event.

By: Lisa Plant

Published: June 10th, 2010 in News » Israel

Toronto Youth Support Sports for Needy in Haifa

Close to the impressive soccer stadium of Maccabi Haifa, there is a lesser known soccer club. From the outside it appears to be a decrepit old structure, but on the inside it is a haven where underprivileged youth in Haifa come to play the game of soccer.

The Neve Yossef Soccer Club is a special place that supports 200 to 250 children and youth at a time. These kids are from families of low socioeconomic backgrounds and many are new immigrants to Israel. The volunteers who work at the Neve Yossef Club provide these children with a structured and supportive environment, and this in turn keeps them off the streets. Models for discipline, team work and responsibility in addition to teaching the skills of soccer are all provided.

The building of the club itself needs major renovations. A new roof is badly needed, new washroom and laundry facilities must be updated and uniforms and equipment must be purchased.

This is where first year Wilfrid Laurier University students Justin Hummel, Matt Klar, Sammy Ptasznik, and Cory Capland stepped in.

In September, retired American-born Israeli basketball star Tamir Goodman spoke at the first Friday night dinner of the school year at the Chabad Lubavitch of the Waterloo Region, in the home of Rabbi Moishy and Rivky Goldman. That evening, Tamir gave the students in attendance some motivational words about the many things that he went through in his basketball career, and mentioned that he has recently dedicated his career to helping underprivileged and special needs children in Haifa. Justin, Matt, Sammy, and Cory, who were in attendance that night, left dinner with a vision in mind that they wanted to create a basketball tournament in the spring to raise money for underprivileged and special needs children in Haifa.

On Sunday May 30th, that vision became a reality.

The event took place at the TanenbaumCHAT Kimel Family Education Centre in Thornhill. Hundreds attended the fundraiser, where 20 basketball teams from the Toronto region signed up to take part in the tournament. In addition to the tournament, there were also a number of special guests in attendance. Goodman, director of the Haifa Hoops for Kids organization, was able to make the trip all the way from Cleveland to attend the event. He addressed the crowd and spoke about some of his experiences as the only Orthodox Jew ever to play professional basketball. After that, the crowd was entertained with a dunk show by world-renowned dunker and Youtube sensation, Justin "Jus Fly" Darlington. Darlington amazed the crowd with some spectacular dunks including one where he jumped over Goodman. The show was hosted by Q-Mack and featured Canada's number one beatboxer, Scott Jackson.

There were two divisions in the tournament, one for high school students, and one for anybody in university or older. The winning team from the high school division was Team Cantor including Hayden Cantor, Josh Foreman, and Sam Ramzani. The winning team from the open division was Team Maresky, including Zak Maresky, Tunny Warner, and Matt Zio.

Planning this event since the fall, Justin, as the head of the organizing committee, says that a lot of hard work went into this venture and it was a great experience for him and his friends. “It was our first year of university and we all lived together in the same residence. The idea came about at our first Shabbat away at school. We have always been fortunate in our lives and sports have played an important part in our youth. We wanted to ensure that children in Israel would get the same opportunities as we had. By the end of the week, we had come up with a proposal for the event and my friends and I started planning the tournament and began to seek out donors.”

Justin and his group became aware of the needs of the Neve Yossef Soccer Club through a friend who had recently visited the club in Haifa. With the assistance of The Canadian Committee for the Haifa Foundation, a non profit organization whose mission is to advance educational cultural community and environmental projects to serve those who require assistance in Haifa, the plan was secured.

“In contributing to the Neve Yossef Club, as well as the Haifa Hoops for Kids organization, we are achieving the same goal of helping out children in need in Haifa through sports,” stated Justin.

I was very impressed with the efforts of these young men and the huge support that they brought with them to this event. The efforts of this group towards the Neve Yossef Club in Haifa will result in an ongoing permanent structure that will provide a true haven for these kids not only today, but for those that follow in the years to come. They have accomplished a true mitzvah.

The Neve Yossef Project is estimated to cost $23,800.00 in Canadian Funds. The tournament raised $13,000.00. To complete the project another $9,200.00 is needed.

If you wish to make a donation, or, for further information please contact Lisa Plant at lisa.haifafoundation@gmail.com , 647 430 7743 or Justin Hummel at justinhummel@gmail.com.

Lisa Plant is the executive director of the the Canadian Committee for the Haifa Foundation.

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