Thirty-five days after the scheduled start date was postponed due to the Swords of Iron War, which was started with Hamas’s barbaric attack on Israel on October 7, the 2023-24 Athena Winner League (Israeli’s premier women’s basketball league) will begin on Monday (November 20).
Given the ongoing security situation, the league will have a different look this season, with it currently scheduled to be shorter than previous seasons. Additionally, due to the departure from Israel of the foreign players at the outset of the war – some of whom have formally left their teams already, such as A.S Ramat Hasharon’s Maya Caldwell who is now playing with Turkey’s Tourism X Bogazici – at this stage, the league will only feature Israeli players, giving them more of an opportunity to display their skills to the local fans.
The players to be signed in recent weeks include Noa Ganor and Avital Zwebner with A.S Ramat Hasharon, Keren Nehama, Tal Yaakov and Liad Orbach with Maccabi Bnot Ashdod, Talia Sireni with A.S.A Bank Yahav Jerusalem, Jawan Muhammad and Layan Odeh with Maccabi Haifa, Miriam Hanon with Hapoel Bnot Petah Tikvah and Yarden Gutt with Elitzur Ramle (coached by her father, Danny Gut). Not all Israelis are returning to play immediately, with Hapoel Rishon Letzion starting the season without young Israeli star Eden Zipel, who was signed by Castors Braine in Belgium to replace the injured Nastja Claessens.
All five games in round one are scheduled to begin at 19:00 IST (12:00 EST), with Hapoel Bnot Petah Tikvah hosting reigning League Champions Elitzur Ramle, Elitzur Holon hosting Maccabi Ramat Gan, A.S.A Bank Yahav Jerusalem hosting reigning State Cup Champions Maccabi Bnot Ashdod, Hapoel Lev Jerusalem hosting Hapoel Rishon Letzion and A.S. Ramat Hasharon hosting Maccabi Haifa.
A.S. Ramat Hasharon vs Maccabi Haifa will be televised live on Sports5, with the remaining games being televised on the Israeli Basketball Association’s television channel. Entrance to the games will be allowed in accordance with the Homefront Command guidelines