Last week Hapoel Tel Aviv held their season opening press conference at the Herods Hotel on the beautiful Tel Aviv beach front right off of Hayarkon Street. It was the perfect place for the perfect press conference as new owner Amir Kabiri spoke his first words in charge of the Reds and new head coach Cesar Mendiondo also gave his thoughts on the upcoming year.
There seemed to be an air of change, professionalism and optimism this time around as Hapoel have adopted a “Talk Less, More Do” approach for this coming season. Each speaker used the same words, “Talk Less, More Do”, be it new goalkeeper Ariel Harush, legal advisor Nir Inbar, supporter representative Barry Ben Zev as well as Kabiri and Mendiondo. It’s clear that the club wants to move up some levels especially in the way they are presented to the general public, however what a both the product on the pitch.
Hapoel has made a fair amount of signings, however the biggest name they have brought in so far is Harush. Otherwise there have been young players who’ve been brought aboard and some new faces with tremendous potential including Omri Altman from Hapoel Petach Tikva. But again at the end of the day the pomp and circumstance surrounding the club will ultimately be determined by wins and losses not by how fancy a brochure and suit look.
This fact is definitely not lost amongst the Hapoel executives including Kabiri with whom I shared a few words with at the end of the press conference. While congratulating him on the purchase and the upgrades that are evident around the club he said to me, “bottom line is we need to win matches that’s what will impress the supporters.” And he is 100% correct.
Is it good that Hapoel Tel Aviv is taking Maccabi’s lead in how to present the club to the go general public? Yes, for sure, no question about it. Does Hapoel feel that by doing these things that the league will be forced to take a step in becoming more serious and professional? Absolutely. Kabiri said it to me himself that that is in the cards.
Of course there is also branding Hapoel Internationally outside of Israel. Nir Inbar addressed my question concerning this during the presser and he clearly said that there is a plan being developed, but first the club has to put their house in order, which they have been obviously doing.
The club also signed a jersey deal with Puma to be their supplier for the coming season, which is an upgrade on previous years as the manufacturer has a facility in Israel and has an excellent reputation with Guy Denman leading the company’s efforts in Israel. The club will also be pushing their merchandise to greater lengths this coming season and are looking to have a store similar to Maccabi Tel Aviv’s.
Hapoel also had a huge event prior to the club’s first practice with a DJ, music, food and merchandise that went off without a hitch. The fans who attended were thrilled to see their heroes and hoisted them on their shoulders! It was an unbelievable sight, one that I’m sure all Reds supporters felt right within their hearts.
It looks like Hapoel Tel Aviv is off to the right start this year, but all of the good will and fuzzy feelings will face a test if the team can’t provide entertainment and wins on the field.
All in all some say that imitation is the best form of flattery. The Hapoel brass recognizes this and readily admits that they have used the Maccabi model and there is no shame in doing so. One only wishes all of the other teams in Ligat Ha’Al would do the same.