The 13th Pan American Maccabi Games will take place in Santiago, Chile from 27 December 2015 until 4 January 2016. These Games are held every four years in a country in the Americas and are organised by the Latin American Maccabi Confederation (CLAM).
Maccabi SA has sent small delegations to compete, starting in 2003 in Chile, followed by Buenos Aires in 2007 and Sao Paulo in 2011. Team Maccabi SA has been very successful at these regional games, bringing home 20 medals in 2003 (football, golf and tennis) and ten medals in 2007 (golf and swimming). South Africa will be represented at the upcoming Pan Am Games by two tennis players, lifelong friends Maureen Joffe (Jo’burg) and Arona Katz (Cape Town).
Maureen is a delightful, outgoing lady who has an abundant passion for tennis and infectious love for life. In her late 60’s, she is a retired nursery school teacher and lives in Victory Park, Johannesburg, with her husband Isaac Joffe. Isaac has competed at three Maccabiot (2005, 2009 and 2013), winning a bronze medal in the Men’s Masters Doubles Tennis in 2009.
Q: Maureen, when did tennis all begin for you?
A: I have been playing since I was 12 years old. I would come from school and play all afternoon against a big wall next to our garage. I would hit balls against that wall every day, sometimes by myself and sometimes with the family. It was difficult to get coaching in those days, so this was how I improved. I played throughout school but once I got married and started a family and a job it became difficult to juggle it all, so tennis became a more social part of my life, rather than just competitive.
Q: You attended the 2013 Maccabi Games and competed in singles and doubles tennis. What was that experience like?
A: It was absolutely wonderful – I loved the heat, the camaraderie, the hive of activity around the sport. I played doubles with Arona Katz, we have known each since we were babies, so it was wonderful to share this with her. I also met so many women from all over the world, and we shared stories and it was very special. We were also invited to lots of social events and it was a good opportunity to promote South Africa.
The tennis was challenging because we have a much smaller pool of players to select from than for example USA and Germany, but we were very dedicated and tried our best. If the opportunity arises to go to the 2017 Games I would definitely like to go, but it depends on my health and fitness, and of course the R/$ rate!
Q: Why did you and Arona decide to attend these Pan Am Games?
We have never been to Chile and it seemed like a nice opportunity to travel, to play tennis and meet new people. I am a very sociable person and at my age it is less about the competition and more about playing the sport I love and meeting other players from different cultures and sharing our experiences.
Q: You really do love tennis…
I do, it has played such a big role in my life. Sport in general makes an important contribution to your quality of life, and tennis has kept me healthy and happy and outdoors. But also socially it has been wonderful, I have had such good times. As you can tell I love to socialise and tennis provides the opportunity to meet all kinds of new people. I have just returned from visiting my daughter in Boca Raton, Florida. I regularly play tennis with her at her club which is geared towards older citizens who receive free coaching twice a week. Tennis is a very sociable, very big part of their life there.
Q: With all the tennis, is there time for other activities or hobbies?
Yes, I like to be busy! I have always been active and in addition to tennis, Isaac and I used to be very keen ballroom dancers for many years. We also take the dogs for regular walks in Delta Park.
Q: What advice do you have for young athletes?
Playing sport is a very important part of life. It is best to start young and develop a love for sport. It is good to get outdoors, to stay fit and healthy, to meet new people. Be dedicated to the sport you choose, be consistent, practice regularly, try avoid all the distractions and stay focused. And of course, enjoy yourself!
Thank you for chatting with us Maureen. You are a fantastic role model and great example of the value of sport and exercise. We admire your commitment and passion.
Maccabi SA wishes Maureen and Arona the best of luck at Pan Am 2015 and is proud to have them as our flag bearers and ambassadors of Maccabi SA and South Africa. We will bring you all the news of their Chilean experience when they return in January 2016.Back to News