It’s been a week since I returned from Santiago and the amazing experience that was the 13th Maccabi Pan American Games. I just wanted to get some thoughts down before they all went away.
Highlights (in no particular order):
- Walking into the Estadio Universidad Catolica with all the competitors for the opening ceremonies. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. The President of Chile came and spoke at the ceremony (which caused a little angst among the 500,000 Arabs living in Santiago), Shimon Peres sent in a video message, there were beautiful singers, and a wonderful setting.
- The incredible energy at the Estadio Israelita Maccabi (EIM). Athletes and fans of all ages were splashing in the pool, watching soccer games at the stadium, filling the bleachers for tennis, futsal, volleyball, and gymnastics. Just seeing Jews from all over South America in one place was inspiring.
- Sending the corner kick that beat Great Britain in our first game. Our coach had said before the game that anyone could take a corner, but if you hit a bad one, you were done, so I felt a little pressure when I stepped up to take one late in a tie game. My first kick went right to the penalty spot, but unfortunately the defense cleared it out. The second was a little close to the goal, but just high enough to get over the keeper’s hand and onto the head of my teammate Joel, who easily nodded it home. As Monty Python would say…
- Huddling with the team as we watched the penalty kick shootout in the bronze medal match, then racing onto the field in ecstasy/relief when Victor buried the final shot.
- The lifetime friendships that were built over the 14 month process, and sealed at that moment. All week long, we ate together, travelled together, laughed and cried together. I would trust any of these guys with anything, and know that if I am ever in need, they’ll be there to help in an instant.
- Touring Chile. I could have explored the incredible murals of Valparaiso for days. The beautiful parks and public artwork throughout Santiago were also wonderful. I’ve never been a big group tour person, so this was a bit of a new way for me to travel, but it gave me more time to hang with my team, and our families.
I’ll put some more thoughts together later on each game, but this is a start.