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Girls’ Soccer Team Named After Shira Banki Wins Championship

On the evening of Jerusalem Day, following an intense game, Jerusalem’s Hapoel Shira Banki Katamon girls’ soccer team, named after the girl who was murdered at the Jerusalem Pride Parade in 2015, won Israeli girls soccer championship.

In the final match, the team faced the soccer team of Bnot Sachnin, and eventualy won 5:4. Hapoel Katamon is a club founded in 2007 by fans of Hapoel Jerusalem soccer team which was fed up with the team’s management. The club is owned by the fans, and has a youth team in which children from all sectors of the city take part.

The atmosphere of tolerance that characterizes the team manifests in the commemoration of the late Shira Banki, the girl who was murdered at the Jerusalem Pride Parade 2015. Shira’s father said after the game: “The team and the club symbolized to us everything that is good and beautiful in sports, and we are thankful to them for commemorating the memory of Shira in such a unique and worthy way.”

“It’s a great joy, we brought honor to our city,” said team captain Yahli Cohen (15) who has played soccer since the third grade. “If I was told at the beginning of the year that we would win national championships, I would have laughed, I wouldn’t believe. Some of the players cried when we finally won. It’s a great joy that is indescribable. Everyone wants moments like this in their lives.”

Cohen’s team member, Ori Aharoni (14), has played soccer since she was 6. “At first I joined the boys’ team, but I wasn’t accepted nicely, and three years ago I joined Hapoel Katamon. It’s a great joy. Every soccer player dreams of winning the national championship and now I’ve fulfilled it.”

“Our team has Arab players from Pat neighborhood, settlement residents, religious and secular,” Cohen says proudly. “This is one of the more beautiful things in our club. We go against racism and we all play together.”