Subscribe to our Newsletter

click to dowload our latest edition



Young Jewish sports stars make waves

Avatar photo



Whether it’s making spectacular saves on the soccer field, playing fine strokes on the tennis court, or showing leadership in the water polo team, three rising sports stars in our community can look back at the past month with pride.

Twelve-year-old goalkeeper Judah Rubenstein is the youngest player to have been selected among the 45 players chosen for the Southern Gauteng inter-provincial team, which will be divided into A, B, and C teams.

This Yeshiva College student played in the most matches (17) out of all the players who featured in games that were played under the watchful eye of coaches scouting for the 45 players for the inter-provincial team.

Rubenstein’s fellow Johannesburg-based teen sportsman, 16-year-old Jayden Myers, has been shining on the tennis court. He won three of his four matches at a Central Gauteng tournament at Ellis Park last weekend against Tennis South Africa (TSA) players ranked in the top 50 under-16 players in the country.

Myers, who is being home schooled and is in Grade 10, played singles and doubles at this TSA tournament, which he got into by virtue of his rankings. He is ranked 58th for under-16 boys in South Africa and is 10th in the Central Gauteng rankings.

In Durban, 18-year-old Clifton College matric student Oliver Ditz is preparing to head for Argentina with the South Africa men’s under-18 team to compete at the World Aquatics Water Polo Championships at the Olympic Park Natatorium in Buenos Aires. The Argentine capital will hold the event from 2 to 8 July.

“It’s a massive honour to represent South Africa. It’s a dream come true,” says Ditz, who captains the Clifton first team. “Since I started playing, the goal has always been to play for the South African under-18 team and going to the championships is literally the pinnacle of my career.”

Ditz not only achieved more than 100 caps for his school’s first team in his Grade 11 year, but he has also represented KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) at every age group level.

He was selected for the upcoming championships at the Currie Cup water polo tournament, in which Clifton placed second overall in KZN. “I had a nice tournament. I was the highest goal scorer,” he says.

At the championships, the 20 competing nations in the men’s under-18 category have been split into six groups. Ditz and his fellow South African players will take part in a pool with Australia and Kazakhstan. Ditz describes it as a “very nice pool. The last time I went to SA championships, for the under-16 team in Greece, we played versus Hungary, who won the tournament, and we played Turkey, who won the silver plate.”

While Ditz’s captaincy experience may make him a contender for South African team captain, which hasn’t been announced yet, he’s hoping to play in every match. “Hopefully, I’m in form at the time and don’t need to be subbed,” he says.

The team is hoping to do well, Ditz says. “Our age group holds the South African record for the most games ever won at a world championships. We did it in the under-16 tournament, where we won four or five games. We’re seeking to break more records and push the boundaries against the best countries in the world.”

While Ditz is focused on the championships for now, Rubenstein and Myers have big goals in their sights. Rubenstein aspires to play in the Gauteng Development League, which consists of teams in the academies of clubs like Kaizer Chiefs, and then to play professional soccer in Europe. Myers aims to be the best tennis player in the world, and win a grand slam.

Rubenstein, the only under-12 representing the under-13 inter-provincial team, was scouted for the team while playing for a team called Buffaloes, which included players from Yeshiva and King David Sandton.

He and the other 45 players chosen by the scouts will now take part in trials, from which they will be split into groups of 15 to form part of the inter-provincial A team, called Southern Gauteng; B team, called Joburg; and C team, called Wits.

Once these inter-provincial teams have been finalised, the players will head off to Dinokeng, Gauteng, where they will play against other provinces.

Myers isn’t unfamiliar with taking on players from other provinces, and he has won or come second in tournaments in Polokwane and Mpumalanga.

He says the secret behind his good results is, “working really hard, giving as much as I can, and having mental toughness”.

Myers, Rubenstein, and Ditz train most days of the week.

For the latter, managing water polo with doing matric is a challenge. “Matric does come first. But at the same time, water polo is my passion, and I’m not going to go to a world championships not fully prepared.”

Ditz fell in love with water polo as a Grade 2 student watching his older brother, Noah, play at a tournament. “I started watching all Clifton games. Watching their chemistry, skills, and banter led me to playing it in Grade 3,” he says.

Similarly, Rubenstein was surrounded by soccer because his dad, uncle, and cousins played it. “When I saw a ball, I just started kicking it. I also watch soccer.”

Myers started playing tennis when he was about seven years old. “I started taking tennis more seriously when I started watching Roger Federer, and from there I loved it even more.”

Myers feels happy on the tennis court. “When I play, I forget about everything else that’s going on in life, and I love the challenge.”

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *