August 11, 2023
Makkabi Berlin, founded by Holocaust survivors, to be 1st Jewish team in German Cup
by: Posted: Updated: Berlin (AP) — Makkabi Berlin’s first game ever ended in a 15-1 loss in the city’s humblest soccer league. The result of that 1971 match was secondary, though, as merely playing was an achievement for the team founded by Holocaust survivors. “We wanted to show that we’re still here — that we’re accepted, that we weren’t ended in 1933,” co-founder Marian Wajselfisz told The Associated Press. He still laughs about the result. On Sunday, Makkabi will be the first Jewish club to play in the German Cup, a season-long tournament for 64 of the country’s best professional and amateur sides. When the annual competition was started under the Nazis in 1935, Jews weren’t allowed to take part. So when fifth-tier Makkabi squares off against top-tier Wolfsburg, it will be carrying the weight of history onto the field. “I’ve been there from the first day. I never imagined that we — as a Jewish team — would ever be playing a cup game against a Bundesliga team. So for us, and for me personally, it’s a huge joy,” said Wajselfisz, whose family survived the Nazis with the help of a Polish couple who hid them in their cellar for nearly two years. Makkabi is the successor to Bar Kochba Berlin, a club founded in 1898 to promote Jewish participation in sports. It had more than 40,000 members at its peak. But when the Nazis came to power, they forced Jewish athletes to take part in separate competitions and then banned Jewish organizations outright in 1938. Formed in 1970, Makkabi Berlin is one of many Jewish sports and social clubs around the world — there are also Makkabi clubs in Munich, Frankfurt and Düsseldorf. With 550 members, the Berlin club fields teams in a variety of sports, including basketball and volleyball. Although Makkabi Berlin’s Jewish identity and mission are still central to its identity — the amateur team’s crest features the Star of David — membership in the club is open to all. That’s especially evident with its soccer team, which features players from 15 countries and various religions, including Jews, Muslims and Christians. “This is something we’re extremely proud of,” board member Michael Koblenz said. “We’re here, and whoever is ready to play for us, and is also open to playing for a club with Jewish origins and some sort of Jewish culture, we’re absolutely happy to integrate people into our teams.” Among the non-Jewish players on the club is 36-year-old Senegalese defender Papa Alpha Diop, who joined Makkabi Berlin in 2017 and is Muslim. In addition to his first-team duties, Diop oversees the club’s youth setup and coaches its under-10 team. Kids as young as 5 can join. “Sometimes I feel tired, but when I see the kids, I forget about the tiredness, I’m happy,” Diop said. “It doesn’t matter about religion, or what you are. It’s not important. The only important thing is that you like to come and play Football.” Knocking off Wolfsburg would be a tall order: The team won the German Cup in 2015 and competes in the Bundesliga against the likes of Bayern Munich. Makkabi, which earned promotion to the fifth tier by winning the Berlin league last season, qualified for this year’s German Cup by winning the Berlin Cup in June for the first time. Wolfburg’s visit means Sunday’s game will be played in a bigger venue in Berlin. Makkabi’s usual sportsground is named for former national team player Julius Hirsch, whose grandson has been invited to the match. Hirsch fought for Germany in World War I, won club championships with Karlsruher FV and Fürth, and played for Germany at the 1912 Olympics. But he was murdered at Auschwitz for being Jewish. Unlike Makkabi’s typical matches, Sunday’s match will be televised. It has stoked interest far beyond Berlin, with the World Jewish Congress saying it was “delighted and proud” to see how Makkabi’s sporting achievements were being celebrated by the Jewish community abroad. “The popularity, visibility and success of Jewish sports clubs symbolizes the growth of established Jewish life in Germany and the world,” the congress said. Adding to the historical intrigue of the match is that Wolfsburg is owned by Volkswagen, which made use of forced labor during the war. But Wajselfisz said such matters belong in the past. “I have many German Friends, Christian friends. I never speak about it. Perhaps his father or grandfather was in the SS, for me everything is open,” he said. “It was 80 years ago. It’s past. Now, we try to be accepted as Jews.” Antisemitism remains a problem in Germany, where there is increasing support for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. Makkabi captain Doron Bruck, who is Jewish, said the team’s success is changing how the club is perceived — less as the victim of antisemitism and more like other clubs that are judged only on their sporting merit. “If anyone has any problem with us or has any antisemitic background, we’re open to discuss, we’re open to inform,” Bruck said. “But we don’t want to hide and just be in the victim’s role. We want to be active. And I think that’s also a huge part of the success.” ___ For more AP soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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