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Jewish group recruits youth for soccer team


© St. Petersburg Times, published February 11, 2001

CITRUS PARK -- Capitalizing on a big-name coach and the popularity of soccer, the Tampa JCC Federation is organizing a soccer team for the Maccabi Youth Games.

Eventually, coach Jimmy McGeough hopes that he can prepare a team to compete in Israel.

For now, he is recruiting players for regional games, held in Sarasota in August.

The Maccabi games, designed for Jewish teens ages 13 to 16, are held regionally each year in different host cities across the nation.

The Tampa JCC team would compete against other regional JCC federations. The weeklong event will resemble the Olympics with athletic competitions, medals, a torch, and opening and closing ceremony celebrations. More than 1,000 Jewishteens are expected to participate in events that include basketball, volleyball, swimming, tennis and golf.

"It's a chance to get kids together and establish a Jewish community," said McGeough, who joined the JCC athletic staff recently. McGeough is the son of John McGeough, a former Irish national team player who is now an assistant coach for the Tampa Bay Mutiny.

McGeough said that he wants his team to be able to compete one day in the international Maccabi games, held every four years in Israel.

Tryouts for this year's 11-member soccer team will be later this month. Cost is $500 to participate in the games, $40 to specialize in any specific event and $35 for registration. Interested players or sponsors are encouraged to call the JCC at (813) 264-9000, ext. 205.

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