JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli teenager cannot play with the national cricket team in the Maccabiah Games because she is a girl and it’s an all-male squad, a Tel Aviv court ruled.
Naomi Eytan, 14, has been playing all season on the under-19 team and is its only girl. The Tel Aviv District Court ruled Sunday that the team is male only.
The Maccabiah Games are scheduled to start Tuesday and run for two weeks. Tens of thousands of Jewish athletes from around the world gather in Israel for for the competition.
There is no female under-19 cricket competition, and Maccabiah organizers told Eytan that she could not play with the Israeli national team since the competition is for males only, The Times of Israel reported.
The Israeli national team is made up of the top 15 cricket players under 19 in the country.
Eytan’s attorney, Gali Etzion, told The Times of Israel that the court based part of its ruling on what she said is a misinterpretation of the rules of the competition, which refers to a “12 man” team, and actually is used to describe both men’s and women’s cricket.
The teen said in a statement, according to The Times of Israel: “I’m an athlete and I’ll always be one. No judge’s decision will break me. My way of proving that I am equal to the boys is to continue training and to participate in the future in the European Championship.”
Eytan’s mother, Carmel, told the women’s organization Naamat as she waited for the court decision on Sunday: “Look how she stands among them so proud in the new uniform, and how heartbreaking it will be if, as a result of an unfair decision, this place that she earned through blood, sweat and tears will be taken away from her for one reason — just because she is a girl!”
Naamat posted a photo of the team and Carmel Eytan’s statement on Facebook.