Pillemer keeping it real at Maccabi-Hakoah

a group of people posing for a photo

It is like every season is his City to Surf as he prepares for another year of senior football and his fifth season as club captain.
For the man who celebrated his fortieth birthday at the end of last year, the pre-season routine of running from Double Bay to Vaucluse is second nature in his physical preparation.
On the long run to Vaucluse and back to Double Bay, Jon Pillemer has time to reminisce his life in football and contemplate what the future promises.
?Five times a week on this trek seems a real grind but at my age it?s important I maintain the highest level of fitness to compete with players who are many years younger.?
?My thoughts often drift back to participation in my first of five Maccabiah Games in Israel  during 1987,when as a twenty year old I was selected with my two brothers, Michael and Russell to play for Australia
During the recent pulsating 4-4 draw in the English Premier League between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at White Hart Lane, the memories came flooding back for the former Spurs youth team player who was the 1984 South African youth player of the year.
Although Spurs never signed him to a senior contract in 1984, Pillemer returned to trial at Charlton Athletic in the English autumn of 1988 when he caught the eye of the manager, Lennie Lawrence, who was keen to sign him due to some excellent performances in the Combination League.
Unfortunately, due to work permit problems, he was forced to come back to Australia.
However, Pillemer was never one to dwell on the past and for a number of years made his mark in State League football when he won the NSW Super League Player of the Year award in consecutive years, 1992 and 1993.
His former coach at Leichhardt Tigers, former Socceroo star, Manfred Schaefer, in 1993 had this to say about his star performer.
?Jon gives 100% and is a non-stop performer with tremendous dedication to his sport.?
It was accolades like this which were instrumental in Pillemer being one of only three Jewish players along  with John Foxman( Sydney City )and Phil  Moss  (Northern Spirit)  to play in the National Soccer League when he was signed for Brunswick Juventus  where he  made sixteen full appearances during the 1993/94 season.  
There have been many highlights in an extensive career where he has played with and against many well known local players but he particularly has fond memories of playing at Wollongong during 1996 in the Super League with Scott Chipperfield and Mile Sterjovski who both played in the 2006 World Cup finals for the Socceroos.
?The memories of playing at a high level will remain with me for many years but I still hope to continue with Maccabi Hakoah for a few seasons yet?, says Pillemer.
Who would deny this ambition as last year he won the club player of the year award for the second time in three years.
Unlike many players who drift from sport in their twilight years of active competition, Pillemer at the end of last season accepted a new challenge in his sporting life.
He was elected as the senior president of Maccabi Hakoah Soccer Football Club in an exciting new phase of the club?s history.
When the Hakoah licensed club first sponsored the Maccabi football club in 1993 and also added it?s name to the club?s logo there was  great hope for the revival of the famous days  of the 1960?s and 1970?s when Hakoah club was a leading light in N.S.W. and Australian football .
Since 1993 there have been successes but at last there has been a meeting of minds which will steer the course of events in the future.
At the end of last season, a vacancy opened in the NSW Youth Development League and Maccabi ? Hakoah was given the opportunity to fill the void which was grabbed with open arms.
For the first time young Maccabi players will be able to represent the club from u/13-u/18 level at the highest representative level in NSW which will avoid the need to play elsewhere to graduate in the game .  
The formation of a four man football board to oversee these developments  is a first in the club?s history and  the incumbents  Pillemer(Senior Club President), Danny Hochberg (Junior President), John Meyers( Futsal President) and Phil Filler (Hakoah Licensed Club)  have created a unity never witnessed before.
? The u/18?s will run as an academy under the supervision of senior coach, Andrew Prentice, and every week at least three of them will train with the senior squad and be given the opportunity to play in the u/20 senior competition,? says Pillemer.
? If they perform well they will be given further chances to play in the senior competition which will continue the policy of promoting youth from last year when we had seven players, twenty years and under in the first team squad.
?A big future is predicted for players like Jordan Mundell, Danny Rabie and Daniel Joseph who played regularly in first grade last year and will form the nucleus of the first team squad for years to come.
?We are actively seeking promotion to the 1st Division next year and I believe the new initiatives will be critical in realising this aim.?
The man who a few years ago was nominated in the Jewish Football Team of the Century  next to immortals like Peter Fuzes, Robbie Fekete and Jules Forgacs is laying the foundations for a return to the  the glory days of  Hakoah SFC and his efforts can only be beneficial for Jewish sport in Sydney.  
Pillemer?s commitment to his cause can be best described by former Socceroo and Maccabi Hakoah coach, Kimon Taliadoros.
?Jon has this special ability to motivate others, an undying enthusiasm and optimism and a desperation to succeed both on and off the pitch which is a reflection of his professional training at the highest level.?
-By Roger Sleeman