Israel’s national American football team took the field this week for the first time against an American opponent—falling 49-6 to the Maranatha Baptist Bible College Crusaders, an NCAA Division III team from Watertown, Wis., reported the Associated Press.
The 10-team league’s first international game comes five years after the Israel Football League began play.
About 500 people—mainly North American olim or relatives of the players—came out for Thursday’s game. The crowd, a mix of secular and religious Israelis, cheered wildly in a mix of Hebrew and English as kosher wings and fries were sold nearby at the Baptist Village sports complex, AP reported.
Uriel Sturm, commissioner of the amateur league who made aliyah from Toronto, noted that last year’s Israel Bowl attracted more than 1,000 fans and was broadcast live on an Israeli sports television channel.
The fledging league is funded in large part by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who has donated $70,000 every year to it. A field in Jerusalem that hosts many of the league’s games is named after him.
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