Despite, or perhaps because of, losing points for refusing to play on Shabbos, Israel’s under-17 flag football team won gold at the Flag Football European Youth Championships hosted in Italy.
The young squad, which was primarily made up of frum young people, suffered a devastating defeat when they forfeited a match against Serbia that was meant to be played on Shabbos, jeopardizing their chances of making the playoffs.
With a 35-0 score, Serbia was given the victory by default.
“We weren’t certain that we would survive. I was fervently davening throughout Shabbat, hoping that we would make it. We simply couldn’t fail here, Nate Fried, a team member, said. “Since so much went right building up to this tournament, we were like, ‘Great, we’re going to take this thing, when we actually made the playoffs.
Despite the early setback, the group’s stellar play in the tournament’s opening game allowed them to advance to the playoffs.
They then won, advancing to the championship game and a much-anticipated rematch with Serbia. With a score of 34-13, Israel prevailed in the final contest.
The victory was especially significant for Fried and his colleagues since they had respectfully requested a change in the game’s scheduling so that they could observe Shabbos.
The team, which had only been formed a month before the match, put in a lot of work at Yerushalayim’s Kraft Family Field under the direction of senior players for the Israeli men’s national team, Gideon Reiz and Dani Eastman.
Israel made its entry into the under-17 tournament of the International Federation of American Football, which was in its second year.