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SA earns eight medals at historical Berlin Games




“The opening ceremony in particular was very symbolic,” said Maccabi SA Chairman Cliff Garrun.

“The German president was at the event and in a way it felt that a threshold had been crossed – that this was the emancipation of the German Jewish community.

“You had a sense that the way they carried themselves, they were proud to be German for the first time. But, obviously it is a personal thing and also a generational thing. Each of us unpacks the Holocaust in diverse ways. One finds the youngsters today have a different view to the older generation.”

For Garrun, the highlight of the opening ceremony, held in the stadium built by the Nazis for the 1936 Olympic Games, was the singing of Hatikvah.

“That was a great moment. To hear Hatikvah sung in full voice in that stadium was remarkable.”

What also made this event unusual was that all the participants – more than 2 000 of them – were housed at the same hotel.

“There is a hotel in East Berlin with 1 200 rooms. It is a convention centre, so everything is under one roof. We had police-escorted buses taking us to the stadium and the drive took 45 minutes to an hour,” said Garrun.

The SA delegation of 37 comprised three futsal teams and two swimmers and they came away with five gold medals, one silver and two bronze.

The Maccabi SA futsal programme has since flourished under the leadership of co-ordinator Ronen Cohen, who is also a successful Maccabian. As a junior, Cohen won a medal for table tennis at the 1997 Maccabi Games. He has since been active in various capacities as player, coach and in management.

The EMG was a steep learning curve for the junior (under-16) futsal team who took part in their first major event against experienced contenders Great Britain, Spain and Turkey. They narrowly lost out on qualifying for the semis in a tough 6 – 5 battle against Spain.

“I am immensely proud of this team who left South Africa as boys and will return as men. On the day some of their games could have gone either way, but they never gave up and left everything they had to give on the court,” said Cohen.

The Open and Masters teams both won their group rounds with full points, the first Maccabi SA teams in either football or futsal to achieve this. The open category was the most highly contested event with 16 teams taking part. After a decisive 5 – 0 victory against Finland in the quarterfinals, they lost to the very experienced British team 4 – 0 in the semis.

The bronze medal match against Israel was unfortunately cancelled as the Israeli team was forced to withdraw due to injuries As a result the SA team was awarded the medal, although all agreed they would have preferred the opportunity to win it on the court.

After three impressive wins against Denmark, Spain and Great Britain, the Masters team lost their first game of the tournament 4 – 2 to Turkey in the semi-finals. They went on to capture the bronze medal, beating Denmark for a second time, 3 – 1.

Garrun won gold in three swimming events: Masters 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle while his daughter, Kim, won two golds (open 50m backstroke, 50m freestyle) and a silver in the 100m freestyle.

“We didn’t face the strongest opposition in the swimming, but the competition in the futsal event was very strong. Not only did you have all the European countries, but Australia was there as well,” said Garrun.

Speaking after the tournament, Cohen added: “After such dominant group rounds, both the open and masters teams were admittedly crushed to lose the decisive games. But we gave our absolute best against very experienced teams.

“We all learned a lot at this tournament and will use this knowledge to grow stronger and better. I would like to thank all involved, including the dedicated parents, who have contributed to our success.”


Maccabi sa delegation:


Head of delegation: Cliff Garrun


Junior/u-16 Futsal


Manager: Hirshi Groner; assistant manager: Jonathan Cohen; coach: Ronen Cohen; assistant coach: Levi Groner.

Team: Aaron Benjamin; Aaron Berchowitz; Jonny Bernstein; Zac Cohen; Aaron Glanz; Dylan Greenberg; Zach Israel (capt); Jarryd Roup (vice-capt); Devin Sheinbar; Joseph Sher; Joshua Tarlie; Dylan Trappler.


Open Futsal


Manager: Ronen Cohen; coach/player: Sholem Lange.

Team: Gadi Cohen; Saul Cohen (vice-capt); Levi Groner; Sholem Lange (capt); Eugene Lazarus; Daniel Lutzno; Dean Osher; Itai Propheta; Ryan Smith; Greg Vituli; Aaron Witz; Cliff Yuter.


Masters Futsal


Managers/players: Ronen Cohen; Louis Zive.

Team: Wayne Avnit; Andrew Cohen (capt); Ronen Cohen; Harel Dobrin; Aron Freeman; Greg Hatzkilson; Trevor Morris; Daniel Woznica; Louis Zive (vice-capt).




Masters: Cliff Garrun.

Open: Kim Garrun.



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  1. Sharon Gomer

    Aug 13, 2015 at 9:18 am

    ‘Mazeltov, well done to all the South Africans who did their best and achieved so much.  All one can say having the Macabi Games in Berlin in that stadium, singing Hatikvah with the German Chancellor, German hosts, German hospitality and German Jews participating is ‘ WE ARE STILL HERE AND THROUGH ALL ODDS OVER CENTURIES OF PERSECUTION, WE ARE STILL HERE & WILL BE HERE FOREVER. Best wishes to all Sharon.’

  2. Choni

    Aug 14, 2015 at 7:28 am

    ‘\”May God remember the souls of the holy and pure ones who were killed, murdered, slaughtered, burned, drowned and strangled, for the sanctification of the Name, through the hands of the German oppressors. Yemach sh’mom v’ zichron. may their name and memory be obliterated forever\”.

    The above profound prayer is from the Yizkor prayer recited in all synagogues four times a year.

    There is not a single Jewish family in which one of its members did not perish in the worst act of cruelty against the  Jewish people in all its history.

    Is holding Jewish games in murderous Germany the way to obliterate the name and memory of our nation’s killers? All of Israel should remember our holy men, woman and children who were murdered by obliterating the name and memory of those killers down to the last Volkswagen.

    I have nothing but anger and disgust at the organizers and participants of these games, and also at those who glorify Jewish participation.


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