Israeli Football League

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Israeli Football League
Israeli Football League (logo).jpg
Israel Football League logo
Sport American football
Founded 2005
Commissioner Betzalel Friedman
No. of teams 8
Country Israel
Most recent
Jerusalem "Big Blue" Lions
Most titles Tel Aviv-Jaffa Sabres, Judean Rebels (3)
Official website

The Israel Football League (IFL) is the official tackle football league of Israel. All players in the league are amateur.


The IFL was founded in the summer of 2005 by a group of Israelis who wanted to play tackle American football. The first season, played without pads or an official governing body, began in the Fall of 2005. In 2007, the league began fully equipped play under the umbrella of American Football in Israel (AFI), and Israel Bowl I was held in 2008. The most recent Israel Bowl champions are the Jerusalem "Big Blue" Lions with David Abell being named Israel Bowl MVP.

The IFL is sponsored by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and his family.[1]

Currently in Israel there are no American football stadiums. The new "Kraft Family Sport Campus" is under construction. Currently all games are played in soccer stadiums when available.[1]

The league currently plays nine-on-nine football with hopes to expanding to eleven-on-eleven, due to there currently being 450 players divided up among the 8 teams.[1]

Season history[edit]

2007–2008 season[edit]

The inaugural season of the IFL, with regulation pads and staff, witnessed a surprisingly high level of play for a first-year tackle league. There were four teams in the league for the 2007–2008 season: the Big Blue Jerusalem Lions, the Real Housing Haifa Underdogs, the Dancing Camel Hasharon Pioneers, and the Mike's Place Tel Aviv Sabres. In the championship game, Israel Bowl I, the Big Blue Jerusalem Lions defeated the Real Housing Haifa Underdogs in overtime.

Final Standings:

  1. Jerusalem Lions 7-1
  2. Haifa Underdogs 6-3
  3. Hasharon Pioneers 3-6
  4. Tel Aviv Sabres 1-7


  • Semifinals: Jerusalem Lions 38 - Tel Aviv Sabres 0, Haifa Underdogs 38 - Hasharon Pioneers 14
  • Finals: Jerusalem Lions 24- Haifa Underdogs 18


  • Most Valuable Player: Moshe Horowitz, RB, Jerusalem Lions
  • Most Improved Player: Erez "Shrek" Kaminski, OL, Haifa Underdogs

2008–2009 season[edit]

The league grew to five teams with the addition of another team in Jerusalem (The Blue Sun Music Kings), while the Dancing Camel Pioneers moved to a new home in Modi'in. The Pioneers defeated the defending champion Lions, 32–26, after two overtimes, in Israel Bowl II.

Final Standings:

  1. Modiin Pioneers 7-1
  2. Haifa Underdogs 6-2
  3. Jerusalem Lions 5-3
  4. Jerusalem Kings 1-7
  5. Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres 1-7


  • Semifinals: Jerusalem Lions 24 - Haifa Underdogs 22, Modiin Pioneers 38 - Jerusalem Kings 22
  • Finals: Modiin Pioneers 32 - Jerusalem Lions 26


  • Most Valuable Player: Asaf Katz, RB/LB, Modiin Pioneers

2009–2010 season[edit]

After growing from four to five teams the previous year, the IFL expanded to seven teams for the 2009–10 season with the addition of two new teams, the Beer Sheva Black Swarm and the Judean Rebels. The schedule grew, as well, as each team was scheduled to play 10 regular season games followed by playoffs. The teams who finished the regular season in first through sixth place qualified for the playoffs. The Tel Aviv Sabres defeated the Jerusalem Lions in Israel Bowl III.

Final Standings:

  1. Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres 9-1
  2. Jerusalem Kings 6-4
  3. Jerusalem Lions 6-4
  4. Judean Rebels 6-4
  5. Haifa Underdogs 4-6
  6. Modiin Pioneers 4-6
  7. Beersheva Black Swarm 0-10


  • Wild Card Round: Judean Rebels defeated Haifa Underdogs, Jerusalem Lions defeated Modiin Pioneers
  • Semifinals: Jerusalem Lions defeated Jerusalem Kings, Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres 70 - Judean Rebels 30
  • Finals: Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres 26 - Jerusalem Lions 22


  • Most Valuable Player: Jon Rubin, RB/LB, Jerusalem Kings
  • Offensive Player-of-the-Year: Joe Martisius, QB, Judean Rebels
  • Coach-of-the-Year: Jon Sharon, Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres

2010–2011 season[edit]

Judean Rebels with Becker Trophy, celebrating the victory in Israel Bowl IV

With eight teams in the I.F.L., the league was split into two divisions: the North Division, consisting of the Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres, the newly relocated Tel Aviv Pioneers, the Haifa Underdogs, and the expansion Herzliya Hammers; and the South Division, consisting of the Jerusalem Lions, the Jerusalem Kings, the Judean Rebels, and the Be'er Sheva Black Swarm. Each team played a home-and-away series against each of its division rivals and one game against each team in the other division for a total of ten regular season games. The top team in each division got an automatic bye into the semi-finals, with the number two seed in each division hosting the number three seed in a "wild-card" game, and the last team in each division missing the playoffs. In the North Division, the Sabres clinched the bye and in the semis beat the Pioneers, who had beaten the Hammers in the first round. In the South division, the Rebels beat the Black Swarm in the first round and then beat the Lions in the semis in an unforgettable comeback, coming back from an 18-point deficit with 7:40 to go in the game. Rebels QB and League M.V.P. Alex Swieca took the winning score in himself with just sixteen seconds left. The Rebels defeated the Sabres in Israel Bowl IV by a score of 32–30, having almost let the Sabres complete a comeback of their own.

Final Standings:

  1. Jerusalem Lions 9-1
  2. Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres 8-2
  3. Judean Rebels 8-2
  4. Tel Aviv Pioneers 7-3
  5. Herzliya Hammers 3-7
  6. Beersheva Black Swarm 3-7
  7. Haifa Underdogs 1-9
  8. Jerusalem Kings 1-9


  • Wild Card Round: Judean Rebels 44 - Beersheva Black Swarm 12, Tel Aviv Pioneers 50 - Herzliya Hammers 16
  • Semifinals: Judean Rebels 46 - Jerusalem Lions 42, Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres 26 - Tel Aviv Pioneers 16
  • Finals: Judean Rebels 32 - Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres 30


  • Most Valuable Player: Alex Swieca, QB, Judean Rebels
  • Offensive Player-of-the-Year: Itay Ashkenazi, QB, Jerusalem Lions
  • Defensive Player-of-the-Year: Jeremy Sable, LB, Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres
  • Coach-of-the-Year: Betzalel Friedman, Judean Rebels
  • Rookie-of-the-Year: Sagan Zavelo, DB, Tel Aviv Pioneers
  • Newcomer-of-the-Year: Jenya Gluzman, DL, Tel Aviv Pioneers

2011–2012 season[edit]

Two additional teams joined the league: The Petah Tikva Troopers joined the South Division and the Northern Stars joined the North Division. Media coverage grew as the league gained popularity throughout the country. In the playoffs the 5th-seeded Haifa Underdogs routed the defending champion Judean Rebels but were beaten by the Tel Aviv-Yaffo Sabres in the semis. The Tel Aviv Pioneers defeated the Jerusalem Kings in the wild-card round, and proceeded to rout the previously undefeated Jerusalem Lions behind a record-setting performance by running back Ilan Bielas.

Israel Bowl V was a Tel Aviv derby. The Sabres took a 14-0 lead in the 1st quarter, but had no answer to Pioneers RB Ilan Bielas, who lead his team to a 28-22 lead in the 2nd quarter, and the half ended with a tie game. The 3rd quarter was a scoreless affair, setting the table for a back-and-forth 4th quarter with the teams alternating scores, and setting up a final Pioneer drive with 1 minute remaining and the Sabres ahead by 2. An unfortunate miscommunication between QB Itay Ashkenazi and RB Koby Nimrod lead to a Pioneer fumble, which the Sabres pounced on to clinch their 2nd crown.

Final Standings:

  1. Jerusalem Lions 10-0
  2. Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres 9-1
  3. Tel Aviv Pioneers 7-3
  4. Judean Rebels 7-3
  5. Haifa Underdogs 6-4
  6. Jerusalem Kings 4-6
  7. Hatikva Hammers 3-7
  8. Beersheva Black Swarm 3-7
  9. Northern Stars 1-9
  10. Petah Tikva Troopers 0-10


  • Wild Card Round: Tel Aviv Pioneers 34 - Jerusalem Kings 6, Haifa Underdogs 91 - Judean Rebels 47
  • Semifinals: Tel Aviv Pioneers 66 - Jerusalem Lions 22, Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres 34 - Haifa Underdogs 12
  • Finals: Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres 44 - Tel Aviv Pioneers 42


  • Most Valuable Player: Chaim Schiff, QB, Jerusalem Lions
  • Offensive Player-of-the-Year: Adi Hakami, QB, Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres
  • Defensive Player-of-the-Year: Adam Zinker, DE/OLB, Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres
  • Special Teams Player-of-the-Year:: Liran Zamir, K/P, Judean Rebels
  • Coach-of-the-Year: Ori Shterenbach, Haifa Underdogs
  • Rookie-of-the-Year: Chris Clark, RB/DB, Haifa Underdogs
  • Newcomer-of-the-Year: Barak Katzir, DB/KR, Haifa Underdogs

2012-2013 season[edit]

The league expanded to 11 teams as the Rehovot Silverbacks became the newest expansion franchise. The division format was left behind in favor of a simple schedule in which every team played every other team once. The Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres became the first team in IFL history to go undefeated throughout the regular season and post-season, as they loaded up on talent and barreled their way through the schedule. The wild card round saw both underdog teams come out victorious, including the Kings' Hail Mary pass to beat the Hammers. In the semifinals, the Sabres crushed the Kings and the Rebels upset the Pioneers in 100+ degree heat. The Sabres and Rebels went toe-to-toe in Israel Bowl VI, but the Sabres pulled away midway through the third quarter, and held on for their second straight title.

Final Standings:

  1. Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres 10-0
  2. Tel Aviv Pioneers 9-1
  3. Ramat Hasharon Hammers 8-2
  4. Jerusalem Lions 6-4
  5. Judean Rebels 5-5
  6. Jerusalem Kings 5-5
  7. Haifa Underdogs 5-5
  8. Beersheva Black Swarm 4-6
  9. Petach Tikva Troopers 2-8
  10. Northern Stars 1-9
  11. Rehovot Silverbacks 0-10


  • Wild Card Round: Judean Rebels 50 - Jerusalem Lions 42, Jerusalem Kings 40 - Ramat Hasharon Hammers 36
  • Semifinals: Judean Rebels 38 - Tel Aviv Pioneers 34, Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres 60 - Jerusalem Kings 6
  • Finals: Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres 48 - Judean Rebels 26


  • Most Valuable Player: Dani Eastman, WR/DB/RS/QB, Judean Rebels
  • Offensive Player-of-the-Year: Adi Hakami, QB, Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres
  • Defensive Player-of-the-Year: Gilad Shoham, DE, Ramat Hasharon Hammers
  • Special Team Player-of-the-Year: Liran Zamir, K/P, Judean Rebels
  • Coaching Staff-of-the-Year: Ramat Hasharon Hammers
  • Offensive Rookie-of-the-Year: Jordan Curran, QB, Ramat Hasharon Hammers
  • Defensive Rookie-of-the-Year: Mor Kalomiti, DB, Petah Tikva Troopers

2013-2014 season[edit]

The 2013-2014 saw a regime change for the IFL as Betzalel Friedman took over as commissioner. The IFL expanded to play nine-on-nine instead of eight-on-eight and implemented a foreign-player limit for the first time. The Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres left the league after walking off of the field in a game against the Judean Rebels in protest of the refereeing. They were handed a postseason ban for their walk-off and subsequently folded. The Judean Rebels coasted through the regular season virtually unchallenged and the Hammers got off to a strong start as well, but both top-seeded teams were upset in the semifinals; the Rebels were out-muscled by a fierce Pioneer defense and the Hammers lost an overtime thriller to the Lions. Israel Bowl VII provided to be the most lopsided Israel Bowl ever as the Pioneers steamrolled the Lions 80-28.

Final Standings:

  1. Judean Rebels 9-0
  2. Ramat Hasharon Hammers 7-2
  3. Jerusalem Lions 7-2
  4. Tel Aviv Pioneers 6-3
  5. Petach Tikva Troopers 5-4
  6. Haifa Underdogs 4-5
  7. Jerusalem Kings 4-5
  8. Beersheva Black Swarm 2-7
  9. Northern Stars 1-8
  10. Rehovot Silverbacks 0-9


  • Wild Card Round: Jerusalem Lions 64 - Haifa Underdogs 34, Tel Aviv Pioneers 50 - Petah Tikva Troopers 28
  • Semifinals: Tel Aviv Pioneers 38 - Judean Rebels 32, Jerusalem Lions 42 - Ramat HaSharon hammers 36
  • Finals: Tel Aviv Pioneers 80 - Jerusalem Lions 28


  • Most Valuable Player: Dani Eastman, RB/DB/RS, Judean Rebels
  • Offensive Player-of-the-Year: Dani Eastman, RB, Judean Rebels
  • Defensive Player-of-the-Year: Yoni Cooper, DE, Jerusalem Lions
  • Special Team Player-of-the-Year: Jonathan Curran, RS/P, Ramat HaSharon Hammers
  • Coaching Staff-of-the-Year: Judean Rebels
  • Offensive Rookie-of-the-Year: Avrami Farkas, QB, Judean Rebels
  • Defensive Rookie-of-the-Year: Elie Mendlowitz, DB, Judean Rebels

2014-2015 season[edit]

The Judean Rebels finished the regular season undefeated for the second straight season, behind the highest scoring offense (PPG) in IFL history, as well as the second best defense (PPG) in IFL history. This time they were able to ride their dominance through to a championship in Israel Bowl VIII, beating the Tel Aviv Pioneers by a score of 20-10.

Final Standings:

  1. Judean Rebels 9-0
  2. Tel Aviv Pioneers 8-1
  3. Haifa Underdogs 6-3
  4. Ramat Hasharon Hammers 5-4
  5. Jerusalem Lions 5-5
  6. Petach Tikva Troopers 3-6
  7. Mazkeret Batya Silverbacks 3-7
  8. Beersheva Black Swarm 3-7
  9. Jerusalem Kings 0-9


  • Wild Card Round: Ramat HaSharon Hammers 42 - Jerusalem Lions 38, Haifa Underdogs 42 - Petah Tikva Troopers 14
  • Semifinals: Judean Rebels 16 - Ramat HaSharon Hammers 12, Tel Aviv Pioneers 26 - Haifa Underdogs 20
  • Finals: Judean Rebels 20 - Tel Aviv Pioneers 10


  • Most Valuable Player: Dani Eastman, RB/DB/RS, Judean Rebels
  • Offensive Player-of-the-Year: Avrami Farkas, QB, Judean Rebels
  • Defensive Player-of-the-Year: Sandro Kalandadze, DE/LB, Beersheva Black Swarm
  • Special Team Player-of-the-Year: Elan Neiger, RS/P, Tel Aviv Pioneers
  • Coaching Staff-of-the-Year: Haifa Underdogs
  • Offensive Rookie-of-the-Year: Jason Armstead, RB, Haifa Underdogs
  • Defensive Rookie-of-the-Year: Rudy Rattner, DE, Haifa Underdogs
  • Howie Osterer Sportsmanship Award: Dani Eastman, Judean Rebels

IFL champions[edit]

The Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres celebrate their Israel Bowl V victory.
Season Champion Runner Up Israel Bowl Venue Date Finals MVP
2007–2008 Jerusalem Lions Haifa Underdogs I Kraft Stadium, Jerusalem March 28, 2008 Moshe Horowitz (Lions)
2008–2009 Modi'in Pioneers Jerusalem Lions II Kraft Stadium, Jerusalem April 3, 2009 Assaf Katz (Pioneers)
2009–2010 Tel Aviv Sabres Jerusalem Lions III Kraft Stadium, Jerusalem March 26, 2010 Evan Reshef (Sabres)
2010–2011 Judean Rebels Tel Aviv Sabres IV Kraft Stadium, Jerusalem March 18, 2011 Zack Miller (Rebels)
2011–2012 Tel Aviv Sabres Tel Aviv Pioneers V Kraft Stadium, Jerusalem March 30, 2012 Adi Hakami and Jonathan Curran (Sabres)
2012–2013 Tel Aviv Sabres Judean Rebels VI Kraft Stadium, Jerusalem March 22, 2013 Jonathan Curran and Banning Fudge (Sabres)
2013-2014 Tel Aviv Pioneers Jerusalem Lions VII Kraft Stadium, Jerusalem April 11, 2014 Ronny Moscona (Pioneers)
2014-2015 Judean Rebels Tel Aviv Pioneers VIII Kraft Stadium, Jerusalem March 26, 2015 Dani Eastman (Rebels)
2015-2016 Judean Rebels Tel Aviv Pioneers IX Moshava Stadium Practice Facility, Petah Tikva April 14, 2016 Dani Eastman (Rebels)
2016–2017 Jerusalem Lions Tel Aviv Pioneers X Moshava Stadium Practice Facility, Petah Tikva March 30, 2017 David Abell (Lions)


Team Year Joined the League
Haifa Underdogs 2007
Jerusalem "Big Blue" Lions 2007
Tel Aviv Pioneers 2007
Beersheva Black Swarm 2009
Judean Rebels 2009
Ramat haSharon Hammers 2010
Petah Tikva Troopers 2011
Mazkeret Batia Silverbacks 2012

Former Teams[edit]

Team Years Active
Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres 2007-2013
Jerusalem Kings 2008-2015
Northern Stars 2011-2015

The Israel Bowl[edit]

The Israel Bowl is the IFL championship game. See above for a list of Israel Bowl winners.

League records[edit]

  • Most Israel Bowl wins: 3 (Sabres, Rebels)
  • Most Israel Bowl appearances: 6 (Pioneers)

See also[edit]


External links[edit]