Matias Lancewicki, 16, from Aventura, was one of the 20 Jewish athletes carefully picked to fly in with the USA Youth Men Soccer Team for the 20th Maccabiah games in Israel.
The Macabiah Games, also known as the Jewish olympics, is the third largest international competition, falling right behind the Olympics and Pan-American games themselves. This year, with over 10,000 athletes and 85 different countries, the 20th Macabiah games has been the largest one yet.
Playing as the striker for the team, Matias was able to put a mark on the score board against Australia, helping his team pull through with a victory. Although Matias was not able to bring back any medals with his team, he most definitely made his mark on the field throughout the tournament.
Originally from Argentina, Matias began to play soccer as soon as he could walk. After years of training, he was able to achieve the level needed in order to be able to compete against the top athletes in the Macabiah games.
Back at home, Matias plays for his high school varsity team in Scheck Hillel Community Day School as well as with the Hollywood CTC bandits, his travel club team. Throughout his soccer career, Matias has been able to clench on to several different achievements with both of these teams, such as achieving the silver Medal in both the ESPN tournament in Orlando as well as in the Adidas South Florida Super Cup.
Although he is fully dedicated to soccer, Matias makes sure to keep up with his school work and stay on track with his education. Being a member of the National Honors Society, Matias works hard to make sure he keeps his grades up in his Hardcore classes no matter how much time he spends with a ball in his feet.
Being a religious Jew who respects the Shabbat, it has not always been so easy for Matias to advance in his soccer career. Having many of his soccer games on Saturdays, several of the clubs that Matias has played for in the past have punished him with less playing time for not being able to travel for Saturday matches. Even though this rose several conflicts with different of his teams, until this day, Matias has never given up Judaism in order to play soccer. Even for the Maccabiah game tryouts, Matias was one of the only athletes trying out who missed a practice because of Shabbat, and with the help of God, he was still able to clench onto a spot in the team.
Matias received his acceptance email on January 20th. During that week, we read the Parasha of Shemot where we learn about the story of how Pharoh’s daughter, Batia, stretched her arm to get Moshe and even though it was too far, God made a miracle and allowed her to bring in the baby in the basket from the Nile River. This story from the parasha teaches us that no matter how far away a goal may seem, even if it is impossible in our human eyes, we should still go out there and try by putting in our best effort, and if Hashem sees this, he will then help us go the rest of the way. Matias had several conflicts with soccer because of the religious reasons, specifically conflicts with Shabbat observance. Regardless, he continued to fight and play on no matter how bad situations turned out. Even though a couple of years ago it may have seemed impossible for him to be able to join a tournament as big as the Macabiah games, he continued to put in all his effort and hard work, and Hashem helped him with everything he needed in order to achieve his dream.