Have you ever wondered what it’s like to accompany a professional sports franchise to an away match?
A few weeks ago I travelled with Maccabi Tel Aviv to Malta for their UEFA Champions League 2nd round qualifying match and I had an absolute blast! It was an amazing experience even though the Yellow-and-Blue lost the game against Hibernians, but I’m off again with the club this time to the city of Plzen in the Czech Republic.
Maccabi will have an uphill battle against Viktoria Plzen after succumbing at home to the Czech champs 1:2 at Bloomfield Stadium last week. However, they have a chance to advance to the Champions League playoffs should they win 2:0 or by a score which will give them more away goals than the two that Plzen scored in the first leg.
Part of joining the team on their away travels is about seeing them in action not only on the pitch, but also as a team, and one thing is for sure, Maccabi is a team in every sense of the word. They get along together with one another, they hang together, they enjoy each others company as they continue to grow as a team.
After winning the Treble last year everyone could see that the team was one well oiled unit and that’s not something easy to accomplish. Players over the course of the year have their ups and have their downs both on the pitch and as people. And that’s exactly what the players are. People just like you and me, with one exception.
They have to perform in front of thousands and thousands of people and are under the scrutiny of the media, the public as well as fans and supporters from not just their own city but from around the world. Normal people like you and me don’t have to (thankfully) do that.
Maccabi under the ownership of Mitch Goldhar has been able to create a culture that is envied throughout the league and one that will hopefully be imitated by other clubs across Israel.
This can be seen by just watching the members of team interact not just between themselves but also with the fans. This is something extraordinary that Maccabi has been able to master. Through their professional public relations department, new media and management they have been able to create an atmosphere that is both comfortable and professional to all those around them.
Just recently a former Maccabi player now plying his trade elsewhere said that Maccabi’s professionalism in this realm is second to none. Speaking to contest winners that accompanied the team both to Malta and Plzen said that the club and players couldn’t be more accommodating. They took pictures, signed autographs and had conversations with other people. A nicer group one couldn’t have met.
There is an air of confidence surrounding the club with the hope that the team will come away with a victory. Hopefully, this time in Plzen, Maccabi can pull the rabbit out of the hat and come away with a win that will allow the team to advance to the playoff round and a chance to play in the Champions League group stages.
Hope is abound that Maccabi can win. Hope is what we all have as Jews around the world and in Israel. Hope is the title of our National Anthem.
Let’s all hope together that Maccabi can pull off a win!