By Kevin Deutsch
Two Parkland softball players will be part of the first-ever Israeli team to compete at the 12 and under level in a major international tournament held this August.
The players, Ava Steinberg and Olivia Weiss, both 11, will play on the team fielded by the Israel Softball Association, the governing body for all organized softball in Israel.
The team will compete on one of the biggest international stages for youth softball, the European Massimo Romero Youth Tournament in Italy.
The tournament, organized by the World Baseball Softball Confederation Europe—the European governing body for baseball and softball—is held annually in Collecchio, Italy, for European players ages 13 and under.
The tournament is named after Massimo Romeo, a European Softball Federation Hall of Famer who died on Sept. 5, 2021. This year’s games are scheduled from Aug. 10 to 13.
The new Israeli team, with the two Parkland members, is comprised of players of Israeli citizenship and U.S.-born players with Jewish or Israeli heritage, team organizers said.
Steinberg, now 11, has been playing softball since she was five in local recreational leagues. She recently completed fifth grade at Heron Heights Elementary and will attend Westglades Middle School next year.
“I am so excited to play for Team Israel because it will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I can’t wait to represent my heritage on the ball field,” Steinberg said.
Weiss, who will be entering sixth grade at Westglades Middle School, has been playing softball since she was seven. She currently plays for the South Florida Coyotes, a nationally ranked team in their division.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to play softball with other Jewish girls and proudly represent the State of Israel in international play,” Weiss said.
The Israel Softball Association has organized a fundraising campaign to help cover costs for players who cannot afford their tournament expenses.
Organizers said the funds would be used to ensure players with limited resources, especially those from Israel, can join the team in Italy.
To contribute, visit my.jnf.org/team-israel-softball.
For more information about the fundraising effort, contact Yarone Zober at 412-983-7663 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.