Members of the Maccabi Tel Aviv squad paid a visit yesterday to the "Shanty House" and found it hard not to fall in love with the place, especially with the kids

For Maccabi Tel Aviv, football is not just about strengthening a squad, it's also about strengthening ties with the community whose support is so important to the players and the club they represent. It was in that spirit that five Maccabi players paid a visit yesterday to the "Shanty House", a "warm" home for at-risk young people in South Tel Aviv. Barak Levi, Tomer Chencinski, Reef Peretz, Dor Micha and Eitan Tibi were all invited to have a close look at the work of this youth centre and were shown short videos that describe the activities that are held there.

Joining the players on this visit were also representatives of the Maccabi Tel Aviv Fan Association "Achim Lesemel", whose main purpose is to organise regular community activities in support of the weaker communities in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. And while the players were signing whatever object the children wished to cherish, members of "Achim Lesemel" were handing out Maccabi Tel Aviv caps and scarves. Also present was Mickey Koppel, owner of "Start"Car Services, one of the sponsors of the Maccabi Tel Aviv Football Club. Looking quite moved by the visit, he handed out copybooks and pens to the children for them to keep a record of their experiences and feelings.

Needless to say, as in so many visits with the community, the Maccabi Tel Aviv players were also deeply moved and impressed by what they experienced. And in the case of the "Shanty House", they found it particularly difficult to say good-bye to their youthful hosts but promised to stay in touch as often as they could. They also asked the children to have their pictures taken with them so the players would have a memento of their visit. One of the children went even farther; he agreed to sign goalkeeper Barak Levi's shirt, and added a personal dedication.