15 August 2017
Did you know hummus is the official dip of the NFL? Four years after this surprising announcement, another Israeli influence joins the American football scene—23 year-old, Yaniv Kovalski,Israel’s first ever US college football player.
Kovalski, a recent alumna of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), taught himself how to play by watching videos online when he was 17. Since then, the 6-foot-3, 285-lb athlete has played on the Israeli High School Football League, won two championships in the Israeli Football League (IFL) and played for two years on the Israeli national football team. He even was granted special permission to play football while serving his three-year military commitment.
So how did Yaniv’s passion for football take him from from Jerusalem to Stonehill College, a Catholic university in southeastern Massachusetts? As the Washington Post article explains, Yaniv was the first player from the Kraft Family Israel Football League — the country’s first full-contact tackle football league, sponsored by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft — to earn a scholarship from a US college football program. Whether you are a Patriot’s fan or not, you have to admire Robert Kraft for trying to build a pipeline from Israeli football to the United States.
Sharing Yaniv’s love for the game is just another way to #ImagineIsrael.
For other opportunities to connect to Israelis and Israeli culture, check out the Imagine Israel Podcast, and meet Federation’s next Changemaker.