Football, the military and an Israeli footballer’s transition to Hawk Hill


Wearing a uniform for sports or military purposes may seem as different as work or play, but for those who are serious about their impact on others, commonalities abound. This is the case of graduate student and midfielder Omry Perel. He came to St. Joseph’s University in Ramat Gan, Israel, to join the men’s soccer team in the spring of 2021 with two goals in mind, pursue higher education and want to bring the team a resilient attitude that he had learned as a soldier. .

“The pursuit of these academic goals has never been recognized in my family because I am the first person to graduate, or even to recognize its importance,” said Perel. “I am motivated to influence young athletes in my country to succeed, not only in sport, but also academically. “

The transition period for any international student coming to the United States for college is always a challenge, often with a language barrier, a period of adaptation to a different time zone and culture. One of the main reasons Perel decided to be a hawk was the school’s small size.

“It has allowed me to build strong relationships with those around me and I am extremely determined to continue working hard, both academically and for my team,” said Perel. “I feel really lucky to have a coaching staff who believe in me and help me feel comfortable even when I’m so far away from home and my family. “

However, being an international student isn’t the only difference between Perel and his teammates. He will also be 28 in February, making him the oldest on the team. With Perel a Millennial and his fellow Gen Z teammates, it might seem like a challenge bonding, but it wasn’t.

“I have found that when you share the same goals, you can find common values ​​such as friendliness, regardless of age differences,” said Perel. “Once we enter the field, the age of the player becomes irrelevant. Instead, players will respect me by my example and consistency in my behavior.

Perel’s story in Israel is very different from that of the normal student athlete here in St. Joe’s. Not only did he train and play for his team in Israel (Maccabi Tel Aviv) as a young member, but he also served in the IDF, which is a requirement for all citizens over the age of 18. years. Perel recalls that his first couple of months of training were spent learning how to shine his boots, keep a short haircut, and shave every day.

“The military’s apparent obsession with looks is something that confuses outsiders, but it’s not as silly as it sometimes seems,” Perel said. “By having a short, crisp, no-frills hairstyle, you impart character that matches this form of appearance.”

His time in the military trained him to overcome physical and mental fatigue.

“Knowing that you have this ability somewhere within you not only gives you confidence in everything you do, it is the difference between success and failure and, [and] for soldiers, often life or death, ”said Perel. “Dig deeper into your reserves and you’ll be surprised at what you’ve got in there.”

Entering the military at 18, Perel was placed in a situation where he must have matured faster than most.

“I have the strength to face tough and difficult times in all kinds of life situations,” said Perel. “Military service has helped me immensely to strengthen my character and the right vision to face the challenges that I have in life and with every person in this world.”

The parallel between sport and the military may seem different at first glance, however, they do share some commonalities, such as wearing a uniform, working as part of a team of all types of different people, and the use of strategies to outsmart their opponent. Perel compares football to a battlefield.

“No matter how you look at it, both in combat and on the pitch, it’s almost impossible to be successful on your own,” said Perel. “The most important thing is teamwork and training. The better you and your friends work together, the better the goal will be achieved.

Perel’s lessons from the military weren’t limited to his development as an individual.

“Omry brings great leadership on and off the pitch, he brings a high level of professionalism and sets high standards during training sessions and he’s been our most consistent and impactful offensive player last season,” Coach D’Ambra said. “He created a lot of scoring chances on the offensive with his passing and crossing abilities, while also being able to score goals. His conscience and his ability to create in the attack was a huge advantage for our team. “

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Mental strength, leadership, professionalism and productive capacity. All of the qualities that make Perel a solid and reliable teammate for St. Joe’s, which has compiled an 8-9-2 record this season.

However, its only weak point? Miniature golf.

“One of my favorite moments off the field was a day of team building,” said coach D’Ambra. “We took the team to play mini golf and it was great fun seeing how bad Omry was at mini golf, [but] the whole team had fun cheering him on.

Perel has yet another year of eligibility at St. Joe’s. Even after graduating, he intends to stay.

“Actually, I would like to stay in college football for the foreseeable future. I can see myself taking on the role of graduate assistant, ”said Perel. “I think my vast experience can be used in college football because I give a lot of different perspectives, and I want to return the favor that the Saint Joseph coaching staff gave me.”


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