It’s Tomer time again

April 22, 2021 by Elana Bowman
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Tomer Hemed is the first Israeli footballer to play in Australia’s A-League and considers himself as an ambassador for his nation and his religion.

Tomer at work

Tomer has played for Maccabi Haifa, Mallorca, Almeria, Israel, Brighton & Hove Albion, Queens Park Rangers, and Charlton Athletic and has fans all over the world.

After completing hotel quarantine and pre-season training with the Wellington Phoenix FX in their new temporary home of Wollongong, the 33-year-old striker will be playing in WIN Stadium this Sunday the 25th April at the match against Adelaide United FC.  J-Wire spoke with him about being a footballer, being in Australia,  representing Israel,  and being a Jew.

Tomer with fans

He told us: “My typical day is that I generally wake up, spend time with my wife and children. I pray, put on tefillin, and then I thank G-d for everything for my family, and I normally give thanks for everything I have. It depends on my day, if I have time I drop my daughters off, and then spend most of my day training, otherwise spend as much time with my family as I can. If I have the time, I also swim and do Pilates. After dinner with my family, I spend time with my wife and we use this quiet time to speak about our days and take some time with each other. I try to pray during middays and in the evenings, I usually pray every day. My life is about my religion, football, and my family is the main thing in my life.

Since becoming a parent, I have realised that the most important thing in my life is my family. I have found perspective. When I come home to spend time with my wife, and daughters, it helps calm me. I understand that I have a responsibility to them all. They look up to me and my wife, we are teaching them about life, responsibility, and how to behave, and I want to be a good parent to them.

Tomer at play with his family

I do whatever I can to practice my religion. I eat Kosher food, I pray every day and I visit the synagogue. Football matches, even in Israel usually take place on Saturdays, so I try to do whatever I can. If I play on Jewish holidays, I attend the games and matches, and then celebrate afterwards. During Yom Kippur, I never play because I need to not eat, rest, and pray on that day. All the Clubs I have ever played for have accepted this.

When I was a child, I knew that I wanted to be a footballer player, it was my big dream. So I spent my time practising and training every day. It was not easy as my focus was on playing and on my health. My childhood was spent this way, so while my friends and people I knew had a lot of free time, I focused on my dream. But I knew all of my life that it was worth it.

I miss my connection with Israel, with my family and friends there. I have missed a lot of moments and celebrations. It has been a sacrifice in a way, my family and I are often away from everyone we know. My wife and I understand that this is my career, and it is the life that we have chosen. It is not always easy, but it has been full of opportunities. I could not have chosen a better career.

As a child, I played a lot of different sports. I really enjoyed watching tennis and playing a bit of basketball. I really enjoyed playing every sport, yet even as a young child I enjoyed football the most.

I felt that I was quite a serious child and that I had a good character. I felt that I was a good person. Before I became a professional footballer my girlfriend Shunit (now wife) always supported me, and my parents, brothers and friends have always been there for me. I have been helped by coaches to achieve my dream. Everything came together for me, both from within and from all the support I have been given.

Tomer at prayers

I have always been involved and active within the Jewish community. I have felt such a sense of Jewish community, here in Australia more than ever before. We have been given so much support since the first day we arrived. We feel very close to the community here snd we have been and felt very welcomed. We have been invited to join families during the holidays, to dinners, and to events. It has been wonderful to have the Jewish community support here in Australia, and it has been really special.

It was really incredible to see the support on the 15th March and all of the Israeli flags. To be away from our country and to see so many people supporting us, makes me feel that I am not alone. To see all of the people that JNF organised to be at the match and to watch me play made me feel so happy and welcome.”

“Hemed’s importance to his community was clear when the Phoenix took on Western Sydney Wanderers at Bankwest Stadium on March 15 as a sea of Israeli flags were being waved wildly by a bay jam-packed with members of Sydney’s Jewish community” – Jake Rosengarten

“I cannot wait to see my fans on the 25th of April. It gives me such an amazing feeling, this has all been really special. I cannot wait to celebrate with them all again.

I have realised in the past few years that I have become an ambassador for Israel and for Jewish people. I feel that people are looking up to me, for doing well. I feel that I am representing my community, and I am trying to help kids who like football. How I behave affects many people, and I hope to bring an understanding of being an Israeli. It is good for my country. I represent my country and my religion. I give my people and fans a feeling that I am one of them.

My advice for anything in life, not just for young people who want to play football, is that if someone has a dream, you must do everything that you can to concentrate and focus on it. If you try to do better every single time and give it 100%, you will be successful. For me as a child both football and study was my focus. For me, it was to do everything you can do to be better and better everyday. It is not just talent, work harder and commit to your dream. Trust your process, then work and believe in yourself.”

JNF shaliach Yossi Eshed told J-Wire: “JNF Australia is very proud to lead the Jewish community support of Tomer Hemed, the very first Israeli soccer player in the A-League. Tomer and his wife Shunit are such beautiful Ambassadors of Israel and true inspiration to us all, and having hundreds of young adults and people in the community going to Tomer’s matches and supporting him in so many ways is just wonderful. On Sunday, April 25th we will be supporting Tomer again in Win Stadium in Wollongong at the match against Adelaide United FC and we encourage everybody to join us on this special journey”. JNF NSW Jerusalem Shaliach

To see Tomer live this Sunday 25th April at register with JNF Australia : https://www.jnf.org.au/footballmatch/

 

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