What do you get if you put U18 Jewish Aussie Rules players together with an equal number of Muslim players? A brilliant team – in more ways than one.
After enjoying training together last Friday on the hallowed turf of the MCG, the Jolson-Houli Unity Cup squad coasted to a deserving 21.14 (140) to 2.2 (14) win in their 2022 Unity Cup match against a Richmond Next Generation Academy (NGA) Indigenous/multicultural team in hot, sunny conditions at the home ground of Melbourne’s Western Jets.
But the lop-sided scoreline mattered nought, as the real winner was sport, friendship and camaraderie for everyone involved.
Wearing bright yellow shirts featuring the Unity Cup logo and a Jewish Star of David fused with a Muslim crescent and star, the Jolson-Houli team was co-captained by Maor Chrapot from AJAX and Mohammed Yassine.
The team’s Jewish players, mainly from AJAX’s U17 and U16 teams, were Chrapot, Guy Chalfon, Raph Light, Brodie Mond, Nicholas Pike, Eitan Potash, Charlie Rozenes, Avi Segman, Remy Spicer and Noah Spitz.
Mond scored 7 goals, Segman scored 4 goals, and midfielder Nick Pike was a prolific ball winner, who deserved the coach’s award for best player.
The team’s co-manager, Jack Chrapot, told The AJN that, as teenagers who share a love of sport and of playing footy, “the Jewish and Muslim boys found they had a lot in common, and really worked well together as a playing group”.
“While they only had limited time training together, they adopted a teamwork approach from the start, and just clicked together as a unit in Sunday’s match,” he said.
“The Welcome to Country was really amazing, as was the post-match presentation, and I just found it all very uplifting.
“It shows what you can achieve just by bringing together players from mixed backgrounds for a game of footy.”
He added that the Jolson-Houli footy project, and the Unity Cup, will continue as annual events, and the players are keen to keep in touch.
“Afterwards, I overheard them talking about having a bit of a reunion in a few months, over a meal,” he said.
Maor Chrapot told The AJN that getting to train together at the MCG “was incredible, as everything looks so much bigger when you are out there in the middle of it”.
“Me and Mohammed (Yassine), as team captains, set out some aims that we wanted to achieve together as a team … and we’d kept in touch since we’d played against each other in a [Jolson-Houli Cup] match in November 2019,” he said.
“That made everyone feel comfortable and confident, and really ready to contribute, and you could see that in the match – everyone backed each other up.”
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