NEW YORK (JTA) — Israel’s 2-year-old men’s national lacrosse team will make its international competition debut against Slovakia in Amsterdam.
The Israelis will play their inaugural match on Thursday in the preliminary round of the European Lacrosse Championships. They will challenge France, Norway and Wales over the course of the weekend, but will not play on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.
Israel’s fledgling lacrosse program, now recognized by the country’s Culture and Sports Ministry, finished 3-2 in friendly matches this week, closing with a 12-11 win over Ireland, which is ranked ninth in Europe.
The program was launched by Birthright Israel alumnus Scott Neiss, 27, who moved from New York to Tel Aviv earlier this year. In an interview with Haaretz, Neiss said he began brainstorming the idea as a participant on the 10-day free trip to Israel, sneaking away from the program to attend meetings with prospective partners.
Neiss, a native of Oceanside, N.Y., had upwards of eight years of management experience in Major League Lacrosse and the National Lacrosse league. Last year he served as deputy commissioner of the North American Lacrosse League.
Israel’s women’s national lacrosse team, captained by New Jersey native Stephanie Tannenbaum, will play friendly matches in Amsterdam. The team is not eligible for tournament play because not enough players hold Israeli citizenship, Haaretz reported.