Beitar Ariel plays soccer in Israel's third league, the fifth and last in the country and is hoping to make it to the second league this year. After a good season opener, the team got a bit weaker and when it decided to strengthen the team, the coach Asher Shwartzboim turned to Sarsur, a striker he had trained in Kfar Kassem.
Sarsus didn't hesitate, signed on the dotted line was officially transferred to the Israel Football Association and became Beitar Ariel's only Arab player. On Thursday he put on his shirt with the team symbol – a menorah. What seems impossible in Beitar Jerusalem became reality beyond the green line in Beitar Ariel.
"I plan on coming to Ariel for any positive or sports related purpose" says Sarsur referring to the artists' boycott on the city. "The idea behind the boycott is misleading and negative, people should think twice before they say these things. Soccer unites people from around the world so why not Ariel?"
Over the last few years Sarsur has played for other Arab teams in addition to Kfar Kassem, including Tira, Kalanswa and Kfar Bara, but in the past he also wore the uniform of Beitar Ariel's greatest rival – Hapoel Ariel. "I always played on the Ariel soccer field whether it was in a local team's uniform or playing against a local team and I will continue to do so, I don't have any problems with that."
'They welcomed me very nicely here'This season, Beitar Ariel is made up of many young players and a few acquisitions – including former major leaguer Ronen Feigenbaum, coach Shwartzboim's cousin and son of legendary Hapoel Tel Aviv Striker Shaya Feigenbaum. Sarsur shares his time between the Jewish team in Ariel, and successfully coaching the Kfar Kassem youth team which currently holds the first place in the league.
His dream is to coach at the highest levels, and in this hope, he has successfully completed a coaching course at the Wingate Institute. Meanwhile, in order to ensure his future, he is studying bookkeeping at an extension of the Sakhnin College in Kfar Kassem.
Beitar Ariel, like the neighboring team from Oranit, which is mainly beyond the green line, cooperates with Arab teams in the area including Kfar Kassem and Tira, renting out the soccer fields to each other when necessary.
Sarsur has already managed to make himself at home on his new team. "They welcomed me very nicely here," he says, "I feel loved". Ronen Feigenbaum, who is known as the team clown hurries to contradict him with jokes as the team laughs around them: "What are you talking about? Where did you get that idea from? We all hate you here."
Meanwhile, team manager Doron Ahronov sends out a message of cooperation and co-existence. "Within a week or two Sarsur will feel like an Ariel resident, one of us, part of the family," he promises. "He'll be invited to all the private events and will feel right at home."
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