Stoudemire will serve as an assistant coach for the Canadian men’s basketball team in the Maccabiah Games in Israel this summer.
The competition will be held for two weeks in mid-July.
“From a pure basketball perspective, to have someone who’s competed at the highest level of basketball with us is invaluable,” said Alex Brainis, the head of the Canadian delegation for the Maccabiah Games.
Stoudemire is currently rehabbing a knee injury and hopes to be back during the postseason.
The Knicks forward has been active off the court during his rehabilitation. He plans to unveil a documentary titled “Amar’e Stoudemire: In The Moment” on April 19.
Stoudemire is also no stranger to Israel.
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Manager Michael O’Neill was convinced plunging temperatures in freezing Belfast would come as such a shock to the system to Israel’s players that his side would catch them cold in their qualifier at Windsor Park.
His theory looked well founded when Israel’s squad left behind clear blue skies and near-80 degree heat in Tel Aviv, after their 3-3 draw with Portugal, and touched down on Monday in sub-zero temperatures made to feel even colder by bitter gale-force winds.
But the cunning plan began to unravel when Israel coach Eli Guttman saw his players shiver their way through training at Windsor hours later and heeded their call for an antidote to the Arctic conditions.
The wily Guttman despatched his kit man into Belfast city centre the following morning, armed with £500 and under orders to buy enough knitwear and thermal accessories to ward off the cold.
With snow cleared from the pitch but a chill still in the air, Israel’s players duly took to the pitch, sporting blue woollen tights under their shorts, thermal vests beneath their shirts and the obligatory gloves.
After a sluggish start, they warmed to their task and scored two late goals to wrap up a 2-0 win and effectively end Northern Ireland’s faint hopes of figuring in next year’s finals in Brazil.
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An Israeli team of 17 minor hockey players, aged 10 to 14, was in Winnipeg last week and, despite their religious differences, their only opposition was the team at the other end of the rink.
“It is very exciting,” said Itamar Melzar, 10, from Metula, Israel, with the help of a translator. “There are so many opportunities for hockey here.”
They are students of the Canada Israel Hockey School based in the northern Israeli city of Metula and, on Sunday, they faced off against the Corydon Comets Pewee A3 team.
The team consists of 12 Jewish and five Muslim children from the Galilee region, said Shelley Faintuch, community relations director for the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg.
“These kids wouldn’t have an opportunity otherwise to play hockey together. They don’t all live in the same town,” she said. “The Muslim kids actually travel over two hours by car to get to the ice rink in Metula twice a month. It is an entire outing and it mobilizes the entire family.”
Mike Mazeika, a Canadian, has been living and teaching hockey at the Metula school for 13 months.
“It is so rewarding,” said Mazeika. “I’m actually getting emotional… some of these kids could barely skate five days ago and today they played so well.”
DJ Schneeweiss, the Israeli consul general, flew in from Toronto to watch the students take on the local team on Sunday. He said bringing the students to Canada can educate Canadians about the culture of Israel that is often misinterpreted.
“It brings a young face of Israel into Canada and very completely human face,” said Schneeweiss.
Schneeweiss said with conflict in the Middle East, playing hockey in Metula can be a healthy distraction.
“When you go into an area like that, it’s all self-contained. It’s sort of its own world. And I think that’s probably a good thing; it allows them to sort of shut out what may be going on outside.”
While in Winnipeg, the students played and practised their hockey skills for 90 minutes each morning. In the evenings, they participated in different Canadian activities such as bowling, curling and sledding before returning to their billet families.
Marla Vittera hosted the two youngest visitors, Amit Vinegrad, 11, and Itamar.
“It’s been exhausting but very rewarding,” said Vittera. “They have been doing so many things but they are enjoying themselves.”
Vittera said they enjoy the basic Canadian food.
“I took the time and made a great spaghetti dinner and no response,” said Vittera.
“I made chicken fingers and fries the next night and I’m a hero.”
Itamar’s favourite Canadian food on his visit has been pizza. While in Winnipeg, not only has his appetite improved, Itamar said his hockey skills have improved, too.
“They taught me a few new things that I didn’t know before,” said Itamar through his translator. “There a lot more opportunities here, so I feel that I am better.”
Itamar’s team is called the Macabi Young Metula.
By the end of the first period they were down 1-0 to the Comets. By the end of the second, it was 2-2. But in the third period, the Israeli team succumbed to the Comets 5-2.
It didn’t matter to the fans though. The cheers were loud for every save and every goal.