בלסינג אפריפה
Blessing Afrifa
Photo: Oz Mualem
Blessing Afrifa

Teenage runner faces hurdle to Israeli citizenship

Blessing Afrifa, 16, was born in Israel to parents from Guinea, and wants chance to race for his country at the Olympics, but cannot become a citizen until age of 18; 'I want to represent Israel and bring us all medals,' he says

Avinoam Porat |
Published: 02.12.20 , 23:02
Blessing Afrifa was born in Israel to parents from the West African country of Guinea, and even though he is just 16 years old, he has already made a name for himself when he won second place in Israel's sprinting championship last year.
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  • Even though Afrifa is a rare talent, and wishes to represent Israel in the Olympics one day, his current status as a permanent resident - which he received along with his parents and younger sister in 2010 - makes it impossible.
    בלסינג אפריפהבלסינג אפריפה
    Blessing Afrifa
    (Photo: Oz Mualem )
    "It's time we had an Israeli sprinter at the Olympics," saysEsther Roth-Shahamorov, a former track and field athlete who was first ever Israeli to reach the finals in any Olympic event.
    "We have a talent in Blessing Afrifa; he was born and raised here, we need to make him a citizen quickly, and that's without mentioning the humanitarian grounds."
    Video: Oz Mualem

    "I'm Israeli, I was born here, all my friends are from here, I don't know anything else," says Afrifa, "I'm no different from any of my friends who are all Israeli citizens, I want to represent Israel and bring us all medals."
    בלסינג אפריפהבלסינג אפריפה
    Blessing Afrifa
    (Photo: Tibor Jäger)
    "There is a very real chance that if Blessing participates [in the Olympics], he will manage to bring us medals," says his trainer Igor Blon. "He won second place in Israel's adult sprinting championship, and he still has room to grow since we haven't begun power training yet."
    Immigration attorney Tomer Warsha, the head of the law firm representing Afrifa, has already appealed to Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, asking him to grant the young runner citizenship as soon as possible.
    בלסינג אפריפה ומאמנו איגור באלוןבלסינג אפריפה ומאמנו איגור באלון
    Igor Blon and Blessing Afrifa
    (Photo: Oz Mualem)
    "It's important to note that Afrifa is entitled to receive citizenship as soon as he turns 18," Warsha says. "Furthermore, the law states there are several criteria under which a person can receive his citizenship early, and Afrifa meets all the necessary criteria."
    The Population and Immigration Authority said in response that it has only just received Afrifa's citizenship request.
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