SwingMen, the Israeli gay basketball team, took 3rd place in the annual Together Tournament, the international gay basketball tournament, that took place in Paris between 25-27 of March.
On its way up to 3rd place, the team – which is part of the Tel Aviv LGBT Sports Club – competed in a block with four other teams from France, Spain and Italy. Two winnings (against Italy and the Parisian team) sent SwingMen Tel Aviv to the Final Four, where they competed against a USA-Italy mixed team and won.
Being the only basketball team from the only LGBT sports club in the Middle East, the Israeli team received special attention. “Players from African descent who play on European teams told us that they envy us, playing on an Israeli team,” says Tal Maoz, captain of the Swing Men Tel Aviv Basketball team. “They say they wouldn’t even dream of playing under their own flags of Algeria, Morocco or Tunisia.”
The Parisian gay basketball club that organized the tournament is one of the biggest clubs in Europe and includes four different teams. The tournament was intended to celebrate the club’s 25th anniversary, though the joy was diluted with sadness by the terror attack that took place Tuesday in Belgium. “The Brussels atmosphere is very much felt here,” says Tal. “MK Amir Ohana came over to meet us and talk to us. He said that we are a well versed country and that our situation is good relative to the rest of the world – both in relation to security and in LGBT issues.”
“Overall, during the tournament there was no politics at all,” concludes Tal. “We connected over sports and being LGBT.”
The Israeli team returns this evening from Paris. The Tel Aviv LGBT Sports Club plans to celebrate the wonderful achievement of its basketball team next week.