Last night was an evening of pride and celebration as Jeff Israel, a name synonymous with selfless service and community spirit, was honoured with the prestigious ‘Local Hero Award’ at the 2023 Caulfield Volunteer Awards, presented by MP David Southwick. This accolade, recognises Jeff’s unwavering dedication and 15 years of service to Maccabi Victoria’s sports clubs and programmes.
Jeff’s journey of volunteerism is nothing short of inspiring. For over a decade and a half, he has been an integral part of Maccabi Victoria, contributing in various capacities such as club president, committee member, and coach. His most recent endeavour, spearheading the All Abilities AJAX (AFL) programme, stands as his most impactful contribution yet!
In early 2021, in collaboration with Maccabi All Abilities, Jeff established the Maccabi AJAX All Abilities football programme, offering individuals with varying intellectual and physical disabilities a chance to learn new skills and play AFL Football.
Jeff’s involvement was comprehensive. He managed all aspects of the programme development, from recruiting players and volunteers to securing access to venues. His dedication extended beyond administrative roles as he took on the position of head coach, planning and facilitating training sessions. His efforts culminated in the development of the Lightening Premiership Cup, allowing the AJAX All Abilities team to compete against the esteemed Williamstown club.
The crowning achievement of Jeff’s efforts was the team’s entry into the FIDA (Football Integration Development Association) competition league. This provided weekly games throughout the FIDA season, a milestone that would not have been possible without Jeff’s tireless commitment.
The impact of Jeff’s work is best captured in the words of Adam, one of the participants in the program: “Me and my best coach, and best mate! He always pushes me hard in training and before a game, and I’m thankful that I met this legend. Thanks, Jeff.”
Jeff’s work in the All Abilities programme is a shining example of his broader impact on Maccabi Victoria’s clubs. His dedication to inclusion, respect, and promoting active, healthy lifestyles is unparalleled.
Congratulations, Jeff, on being a true local hero. Your dedication and compassion continue to inspire us all!
Jeff has contributed in many ways to Maccabi Victoria including:
Maccabi Victoria AJAX (AFL) Seniors Club Committee – November 2021 – current
2021 – Current – AJAX All Abilities Football Program:
Recruited 15-20 community members with varying intellectual and physical disabilities, managed program development including recruitment, venue hire, planning and facilitating sessions, head coach, recruited volunteers including senior players to support the program. Facilitated practice matches and weekly skill development training sessions, passing, kicking, match play. Co-ordinated BBQ’s and end of year team dinner.
2022 facilitated and drove the development of the lightening premiership cup- practice match with another All Abilities club.
2023 – instrumental in establishing the AJAX FIDA Team (Football Integration Development Association), providing the team participation in a weekly competition league.
2021 – All Abilities Cricket Coach – coaching 10-12 people with disabilities.
2011 – 2019 – Football Coaching – coached Junior AJAX Football