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07.09.2004 EFAF

AFI prepares for 16th Season

American Football in Israel has been busy getting ready for its 16th season, which will start on Saturday, October 9. The heads of the league, which is based at Kraft Family Stadium in Jerusalem, met recently to discuss improvements to the field during the offseason, recognition by the State of Israel and acceptance into The International Federation of American Football, and hammer out a schedule for the various leagues and activities under their umbrella.

AFI President Steve Leibowitz secured the government's designation of AFI as the official national federation for the sport of American football in
Israel. Among other things, this means that the AFI is the only body that
can represent Israel at international American football competitions. On the heels of this announcement, the AFI became an associated member of the IFAF, which holds annual world championships and other tournaments.

"With official recognition by the State of Israel and IFAF membership,"
Leibowitz said, "we have taken two major steps towards developing American
football throughout Israel, while our base continues to be Kraft Family
Stadium in Jerusalem."

At the meeting, it was decided that the AFI league itself, which last year
had a record 54 teams, will have an AFI Opening Day event, featuring at
least one "featured" regular-season game and other football-related
activities, on the first Saturday after the Sukkot holiday ends, while most
teams will play their first game on Friday, October 15 or Saturday, October

Anticipating at least as many teams this year as last year, which saw a 50%
increase from the previous year, the league is planning to rent out two
additional fields in the Jerusalem area.

While the final regular season and playoff formats will not be decided until the number of teams is set, AFI league coordinator Jay L. Abramoff announced that teams will register for a specific time slot, and will play in that time slot during the first group stage of the regular season.

Each team will play six or seven games in the first group stage of the
regular season, after which teams will be seeded and placed into new groups
for the second stage, followed by the playoffs and bowl games.

"While the AFI has been wildly successful, we realized that two issues
needed to be addressed," Abramoff said. "The first one, which we began to
address last season, is that some teams were not completely happy about the
level of competition in their division. Either the better teams felt that
they wanted to play tougher foes, or the weaker teams expressed a desire to
play teams at their level. By splitting the regular season into two group
stages, and seeding teams for the second stage, we will solve this problem.

"Secondly, scheduling for 50-plus teams with over 700 players, many of whom
come to Jerusalem from around the countrym is quite a challenge. This year,
teams will register for a specific time slot and play their first-round
games in that time slot."

While the AFI league is the largest AFI operation, it is only one of many
leagues and activities that take place at Kraft Family Stadium. At the
meeting, it was also decided that, following a successful launch of the
women's flag football league this past spring, the WAFI's first fall league
will begin on Wednesday, October 13.

WAFI league coordinator Yona Mishaan reported that the women were excited to get back on the field. "They have been calling and sending me e-mails almost from the day the spring season ended," he said.

The non-contact, co-ed Tuesday Night Football League is scheduled to begin
on October 26.

For more information on American Football in Israel, please contact Jay L.
Abramoff at 054-440-2659 (or +972-54-440-2659 from outside Israel), or
e-mail, israelfootball@yahoo.com.

European Federation of American Football