A Jewish Goalie For A Professional Arab Team
Editor's Note: This is my first column in your newsletter. I hope you will enjoy reading my future columns on deaf Jews in Sports. I am proud to become a new staff member of JDCC.
A Jewish goalie for an Arab team in the professional Israeli soccer league! Impossible? Well, it happened in the 1994 season so do read on!
Miki Dahan, 26, has been a pro soccer goalie since late eighties and he is well known among soccer mad Israeli fans. There are always several Israeli premier division teams as well as several foreign professional teams, especially in Italy, that try to obtain his goaltending services. And as a result he's often being "shopped around" during the off-season. His quick set of reflexes is what made him standout as compared to other ordinary goalies.
He learned goaltending skills and tricks from his father, a former top goalie in the sixties and seventies. The father spent a lot of time coaching his son, teaching him the tricks of the trade.
Moving up the ranks, Dahan played for the Israeli youth Olympic teem for several seasons. He tended goal in one game against England, a country which doesn't take its soccer lightly, and only gave up two goals.
Does deafness bother Dahan while playing soccer? He said that deafness has an advantage; he cannot hear crowd noise which often distract goalies; he also cannot hear taunts or barbed remarks from opposing players. Off the field he wears a hearing aid, but takes it off while playing.
What's the story about him playing for an Arab team in a town 30 miles northeast of Tel Aviv. Well, his parents immigrated to Israel from Morocco and they are fluent in Arabic. Dahan~s Arab teammates speak Hebrew and since Dahan can speak Arabic language barrier is nonexistent. Dahan said, "We are all Israelis. We also have several other Jews on the team as well as Russian imports." And he got along with all of them and there were no unpleasant incidents during the season with teammates and fans alike.
With Dahan at goal the Israelis would be an international power in deaf soccer, especially at the World Games for the Deaf? Wrong! He couldn't take time off from his professional soccer play to help out his country mates at the 1993 World Games for the Deaf at Sofia, Bulgaria.
Without Dahan, the Israelis lost 3-1 to Belgium and 4-1 to Great Britain and were eliminated from the medal round. In the second round, Israel defeated Korea 3-0 before losing 3-2to Ireland to end up 1 0th of 12 teams. For the sake of speculation if Dahan's presence meant two goals less from opposing teams, then Israel would have tied Belgium 1-1 and lost 2-1 to Great Britain, still better than a 4-1 defeat and then would have defeated Ireland 2-1. Again, its just speculation.
Incidentally, Iran, the last place team, forfeited their second round game and was disqualified from the Games. Were they afraid of facing Israel, their political archenemies? No one knows, but the CISS does not take these forfeitures lightly.
Dahan's future goal is to become a full fledged member of the Israeli national team that would compete in the World Cup. Said one Israeli soccer official, "There were several games we would have lost if not for his presence at goal."