Israeli Lacrosse, Flag Football Players Show Female Solidarity

Thousands of women and girls gathered in Herzliya this month to celebrate female athletes and to introduce a new generation to sporting opportunities.

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Members of Israel's national lacrosse team working with girls at the ATHENA Women's Sporting Event in Herzliya this month.
Members of Israel's national lacrosse team working with girls at the ATHENA Women's Sporting Event in Herzliya this month.Credit: David Lasday

Thousands of women and girls descended on Herzliya this month in a day that both celebrated female athletes and introduced them to new sporting opportunities, including sports that originated in North America like lacrosse and flag football.

ATHENA, Israel’s National Project for Advancement of Women in Sports, held the flagship event marking its 12th year in Park Herzliya, together with the Herzliya Municipality. 

Israel National Team Lacrosse players, who earned second place in Europe in this past summer’s 2019 Women’s European Lacrosse Championship, were on hand with players from Israel Lacrosse’s leadership development program introducing the game to girls from throughout the country. 

Meanwhile, six members of the flag football national squad gave out clinics to busloads of students, taught the sport and coached games.

“Whole classes were learning the sport,” Estie Shai, a member of the national team and director of flag football, told Haaretz. “I don’t think there was one person who knew what football was before and they all got unto it. It was just really non-stop fun, with group after group.”

The event was kicked off by a walk around the park by all of the attendees composed of women of all ages and sporting backgrounds. Women basketball players from the Herzliya club ran a station teaching shooting and dribbling, women drummed on Yoga balls, and young girls were introduced to flag football, rugby, tug of war, and ultimate frisbee. The head of Israel’s Roller Sports Association was there lending out roller blades and cheering on crowd.  

The event also showcased excellence in sports, giving awards to outstanding athletes: rhythmic gymnast Linoy Ashram, windsurfer Katy Spychakov, paralympic rower Moran Samuel, and paralympic shooter Julia Chernoy.

Israel lacrosse national team player MacEllen McDonough testified to the immediate impact of the event, saying she had 20 new girls at her next Herzliya Lacrosse practice. “I’m a true believer in young girls need to see it to be it. ATHENA does an amazing job of showcasing the success of female athletes, sharing their stories, and creating women’s ambassadors who inspire the next generation of Israeli athletes.”

Shai, from flag football, said a lot of girls came up to her asking when there would be another event and how they could play, too. “We came out with 30 full pages of names and numbers of girls and places,” she noted. “So, it looks like a lot of girls learned the sport quickly and want to play it, too. It looks promising to open up in new places and expand.”

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