Israeli footballer Omry Perel makes the transition to Saint Joseph University

Donning a uniform for sport or military purposes may seem as different as work or play, but for those serious about their impact on others, commonalities abound.

Such is the case of graduate student and midfielder Omry Perel. He came to St. Joseph’s from Ramat Gan, Israel to join the men’s soccer team in the spring of 2021 with two goals in mind: to pursue higher education and to bring to the team the resilient attitude he had learned. as a soldier.

“The pursuit of these academic goals was never recognized in my family because I was the first person to have earned an advanced degree, or even recognized its importance,” Perel said. “I am driven to influence young athletes in my country to succeed, not only in sport but also academically.”

The transition period for any international student is always a challenge, often with a language barrier and a period of adjusting to a different time zone and culture. One of the main reasons Perel decided to be a Hawk was the school’s small size.

“It has allowed me to build strong relationships with those around me and I am extremely determined to keep working hard, both academically and for my team,” Perel said. “I feel really lucky to have a coaching staff who believe in me and help me feel comfortable even when I’m so far away from home and my family.”

However, being an international student is not the only difference between Perel and his teammates. He will also turn 28 in February, making him the oldest in the squad. With Millennial Perel and his other Gen Z teammates, it might seem like a challenge to bond, but it wasn’t.

“I found that when you share the same goals, you can find common values ​​like unity regardless of age differences,” Perel said. “Once we step onto the pitch, the age of the player loses its importance. Instead, the players will respect me by my example and the consistency of my behavior.

Perel’s story in Israel is very different from that of a normal student-athlete at St. Joseph’s. Not only did he train and play for his team in Israel (Maccabi Tel Aviv) as a youth, but he also served in the Israeli army, which is a requirement for all citizens over the age of 18. . Perel recalls his first couple of months of training being spent learning how to shine his boots, maintain a short haircut and shave every day.

“The military’s apparent obsession with looks is something that baffles outsiders, but it’s not as silly as it sometimes seems,” Perel said. “By having a short, clean, no-frills hairstyle, you convey a character that matches this form of appearance.”

His time in the army trained him to overcome physical and mental fatigue.

“Knowing that you have this ability somewhere within you not only gives you confidence in what you’re doing, it’s the difference between success and failure and, [and] for soldiers, often life and death,” Perel said. “Dig deeper into your reserves and you’ll be surprised what you have in there.”

Entering the army at 18, Perel was placed in a position where he had to mature faster than most.

“I have the strength to face tough and difficult times in all kinds of life situations,” Perel said. “Military service has helped me a lot to strengthen my character and the right vision to face the challenges I have in life as for every person in this world.”

Sports and the military may look different at first glance, but they share commonalities, such as wearing a uniform, working as part of a team of all types of people, and using strategies to outsmart the opponent. Perel compares football to a battlefield.

“No matter how you look at it, both in combat and on the pitch, it’s almost impossible to be successful on your own,” Perel said. “The most important thing is teamwork and training. The better you and your friends work together, the goal will be achieved in the best possible way.

The lessons Perel learned from the military were not limited to his development as an individual.

“Omry brings great leadership on and off the pitch, he brings a high level of professionalism and sets high standards in training sessions, and he was our most consistent and hard-hitting attacking player last season.” , said coach Don D’Ambra. “He created plenty of scoring opportunities offensively with his passing and crossing abilities, as well as his goalscoring ability. His awareness and his ability to create in attack has been a huge advantage for our team.

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Mental toughness, leadership, professionalism and production ability made Perel a strong and reliable teammate for St. Joe’s. He scored three goals and had six assists as the Hawks went 8-9-2 this season.

However, its only weak point? Miniature Golf.

“A favorite moment off the court was on a team building day,” D’Ambra said. “We took the miniature golf team and it was very funny to see how bad Omry was at mini golf, [but] the whole team had fun cheering him on.

Perel has yet another year of St. Joe’s eligibility. Even after graduation, he intends to stay.

“I actually would like to stay in college football for the foreseeable future. I can see myself taking on the role of graduate assistant,” Perel said. “I think my vast experience can be used in college football because I give a lot of different points of view, and I want to return the favor that the St. Joseph’s coaching staff gave me.”