FGCU Israeli athletes stay focused on the pitch while praying for peace

Writer: Sylvie Sparks
Published: Updated:

For the three Israeli members of the FGCU mens’ soccer team, the last 11 days since their country has been at war with Hamas have certainly not been easy, but playing soccer has been an escape.

Alon Drey, Shachar Nissim and Nadav Ohayon came to southwest Florida to play soccer, but their home is never far from their thoughts.

Before the FGCU Eagles’ Tuesday night game against FIU Drey and Ohayon wrapped the Israeli flag around their shoulders.

“It’s kind of to support my country, don’t be shy and tell everyone that we’re going to be here forever,” sophomore midfielder Drey said.

Playing the game they love helps them forget the war for a while, but Nissim, a sophomore midfielder, says it’s not easy.

“Because Israel right now is going through a lot of difficulties and horrible things,” Nissim said. “If you’re not Israeli, if you’re not a Jew, you will not understand.”

The players say since the war broke out, when they’re not on the pitch they are communicating with family and friends in Israel.

“Their safety is the most important thing for me right now,” Nissim said. “It’s above soccer, it’s above everything. I just keep hoping and praying that nothing bad will happen to them and to the people that they care about.”

Drey’s parents were visiting him here in Florida when Hamas attacked on Oct. 7.

He said the family visit quickly turned somber.

“The last four days that they were here we couldn’t do anything other than watch the news,” Drey said.

While they can’t be on the front lines, Drey told me he, Nissim and Ohayon are trying to do their part by spreading accurate information about the war.

Drey and Nissim say their hope is that people will educate themselves before posting online about what is going on in Israel.

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