Last month, Gibraltar sent two futsal teams to the 2013 Maccabiah Games, held in Israel.
Futsal, which is very popular in the Hebrew community in Gibraltar, was the only sport Gibraltar sent teams to, in both the 17/18 year old category, as well as the Men’s category.
The juniors opened up with an impressive 1-0 victory over Hungary, but it was the following match that sparked most interest. Gibraltar played Spain, and even took a joint team picture before the match, proving again that sport can overcome politics.
Spain won the match 8-3, and, despite a defeat to Argentina by the score of 8-2, Gibraltar finished their group 3rd, and entered into placement playoffs. Facing off against Mexico, Gibraltar eventually succumbed to another 8-3 defeat against a team who had already managed draws against both Brazil and Great Britain.
The senior team were entered in a hard group, that contained hosts Israel, alongside Germany and Guatemala. Unfortunately, Gibraltar could not win any of their games, as they suffered narrow 5-3 and 6-5 losses to Guatemala and Germany respectively, followed by an expected hammering by Israel. The Israelis, using their team that competed in UEFA Futsal competitions, beat Gibraltar 18-1, as they eventually fell to a surprise semi final defeat to Brazil, despite scoring 63 goals in their six games.
There were no placement play-offs for the seniors, although they did arrange two friendlies, against South Africa, and Spain. Defeat to South Africa was followed by an impressive 8-3 victory over their Spanish rivals.
Gibraltar’s impression was made as they received media coverage from both Los Angeles based channel Jewish Life TV, alongside the Jerusalem Post.
Most of the players involved at the Maccabiah Games will be considered for selection to the Gibraltar national futsal team for their competitive fixtures, including the friendly against Malta on September 9. This showing in Israel would have done no harm to their chances of representing their country once again.