International Women’s Day is being marked around the world this week and is being recognized across the globe. It’s also the perfect day to take a look at how Maccabi Tel Aviv has joined some of the greatest clubs in the world in the development of women’s football and its importance.

This past year the Maccabi Tel Aviv Youth Academy also opened a women’s division. The decision to do so was the result of the development of women’s football throughout the world over the past few years and the desire to lead the way in this area as well.

The development of women’s football in Israel is of the utmost importance to the club. Over the next few months coaches will be recruiting players between the ages of 5-15 with the goal of having various teams at different age levels. The teams will operate under the club’s football philosophy.

On Friday March 15th there will be an Open Tryout Day at the PenguinPickup Training Facility at Kiryat Shalom beginning at 15:00. Players who impress the professional staff will be invited to join the Women’s Academy at Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Heading the project is Performance Director Patrick van Leeuwen who understands the importance and “wants to be able to offer girls the opportunity to be a part of the club. That they will be able to have the same conditions as the boys at the youth academy in all parameters.”

Youth Academy Director Guy Zukerman spoke about the desire to join the biggest clubs in the world: “Women’s football is being developed at all of the biggest academies. The decision to begin this project at Maccabi was due to the fact that we wanted to add yet another element to the club and the Youth Academy as we are always looking for ways to expand and extend our projects and programs.”

The advancement across the ocean and the desire to be a part of the action
Women’s football is the most popular team sport for women around the world and it’s one of the few disciplines that have professional leagues. There are 177 countries that participate and are part of the international community.

In Israel, the sport is still behind but has been developing nicely explained Dana Nissenboim the women’s coach at Hadar Yosef: “In Israel women’s football is considered as an amateur sport and it’s not professional enough. There has been an awakening in this area and there are more teams, but it’s so far away from the potential that can be reached.”

Mor Shaked the women’s coach at Kiryat Shalom can feel the changes happening throughout the country: “There has been a positive increase in the amount of players signing up to play on football teams which has allowed girls from across the country the ability to play for a team at their age level.”

The vision: A strong women’s team for Maccabi and the Israel National Team
The club’s goal for the project is to build a foundation that will allow for the girls to train with other girls of the same age with the best possible conditions, just like those of the boys Academy.

Van Leeuwen concurred: “The goal of the project is to create proper teams for girls ages 8-15 with 12-14 players who can train and play together. The long term goal is to be able to play friendlies with other girls teams of the same age in order for them to improve both at Maccabi Tel Aviv and the Israel National Team.”

The Youth Academy will provide the best conditions for the girls teams explained Zukerman: “The goal is for the girls to train with the same standards that the Youth Academy provides. Coaches, analysts, fitness coaches and goalkeeper coaches. We want to create a very professional environment for women’s football in the country and hopefully other clubs will follow in our path.” 

“The founding of a girls team is the realization of a dream for me”
The youth academy will be very active during the month of March with the goal of recruiting girls for various teams. Mor Shaked and Dana Nissenboim, the coaches of the girls teams spoke about their feelings of being involved in the project: “The founding of a girls team is the realization of a dream for me,” explained Shaked. “As a girl, football was my whole life but there wasn’t a team for me to play at as a youngster. Thankfully today that isn’t the case and young players can receive the best professional tools and advice at the highest level. There’s no question that over the next few years the level of professionalism in the country will continue to increase in the world of women’s football.”

Nissenboim also spoke about her feelings on the matter, “It’s a great feeling to be able to take part in this project as it was just a dream when I was a little girl. Today I help other girls in order for them to reach their dreams and the satisfaction is just amazing.”