Small Border City Wins an Israeli Title (NY) TIMES) By JAMES MONTAGUE 04/03/12)
NEW YORK TIMES
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Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona secured its first Israeli league title
Monday after battling out a 0-0 draw against its second-place rival,
Hapoel Tel Aviv.
The draw secured one of the most unlikely league titles in Israeli
soccer history. Just 10 years ago, the team, which hails from Kiryat
Shmona, a small city less than mile from the Israel-Lebanon border,
did not even exist.
But Izzy Sheratsky, a Tel Aviv-born tech millionaire, said he was so
moved by the regular bombardment of the city by rockets fired by
Hezbollah from Lebanon that he bought two local clubs and merged them
to try to give the city something else to think about.
Since then, the team has risen to the top tier of Israeli soccer, won
this season’s Toto Cup and now secured its first title, despite
coming from a city with a population of just 23,000.
“It brings a lot of smiling faces to a difficult place; it brings
hope,” Coach Ran Ben Shimon told Reuters.
The title has also secured the team’s entry in next year’s Champions
“Izzy came here when I was a player and said we’d be champions and
after that be in the Champions League,” the club’s general manager,
Yossi Edri, said in February. “I thought, ‘Who is this man?’ We
thought he was crazy.” (Copyright 2012 The New York Times Company
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