For decades the WA Jewish community has enjoyed the strong sporting and social bonds provided by Maccabi. The forbears and benefactors who have delivered valuable facilities in the form of the Maccabi oval would be very proud of where the organisation is positioned today.
This week is a milestone moment in time for Maccabi. There is an incoming administration that marks generational change. A new coach and centre manager, a super talented and experienced immigrant from South Africa will arrive to lead the future development of operations. There is also the formal opening of a new state of the art gymnasium, built by Carmel School as part of a joint venture arrangement with Maccabi.
It is very exciting to see so much potential realised. A decade ago this would all have seemed impossible. At that time some stubborn attitudes and a lack of willingness to cooperate with broader communal interests stilfled the expression of vision. New people are now involved, and a broader cross section of the community is involved. If you had asked anyone in the year 2000 whether in 10 years time there would be a new pavilion, a new gymnasium complex, kosher dining, more clubs, and such a revitalisation of Maccabi as a whole, most would not have dreamed this to be achievable. The point however must not be lost that had Maccabi “gone it alone” and not compromised with other bodies in the community, then the new facilities, and the flow on impetus, would not have been created. This is a lesson in cross communal cooperation and unity of purpose at its most successful and very best.
In the months ahead new sporting clubs will open. The new community facilities will become more active and more inviting. The unifying impact whereby Jewish people of diverse affiliations are able to mix and get to know each other will be tremendously positive.
The biggest transformation will however be through the impact of professional management. It should never be lost from picture that community organisations are about people, not facilities. For Maccabi to be sustainable it will need to manage its operations on a commercial model. The cost of operating and maintaining facilities can only be met by increased revenue – which means more membership, more activity, and continued growth and development.
One of the important issues for the incoming executive to consider will be membership. There should be a clear distinction between membership and non-membership as an absolute. Non-members should not have membership level access and cost free use of facilities, the ability to win awards, the ability to benefit from whatever would be effectively subsidised by the collective membership. Another issue to consider is the effective use of operational resources, to enhance capacity by operating on a professional basis and delivering revenues that allow the Association of clubs to grow in stature, recognition and performance.
Picture what Maccabi could look like in just a few years time. A playing oval that has a relayed and quality surface, new playground facilities, a bowling green on the now defunct lawn tennis area, new floodlighting, a greater range of indoor and outdoor sports, fitness and recreation facilities, and enhanced social opportunities. Above all, a huge drawcard for potential Jewish migrants to Perth to see greater lifestyle choice within the Perth Jewish community. Beyond the facilities for religious observance and Jewish education, there are also exeptional sport and recreation facilities that are cross communal and dynamically supported across the board.
The cultural change in Maccabi is also leading towards greater Jewish pride and increasing visibility of the Jewish nature of the organisation. This has improved markedly with the development and recognition of kosher facilities for Maccabi. A reduction of competitive public sport on shabbat and YomTov, supplemented by more Sunday sport and where necessary inter-club competition leagues would be highly valued by the more observant sector of the community, with respect accorded towards Jewish community values as a whole. With a number of Maccabi clubs now having participation and even leadership by observant orthodox community members, this dynamic is also continually improving for the better.
The amount of effort extended to deliver the new gym and to source the new centre manager is a huge credit to those involved. The competence and capability of those involved with the project management and the recruitment process is greatly appreciated and not underestimated. Their hard work will return huge dividends for Perth Jewry. The future for Maccabi WA looks very bright indeed.