Scottsdale startup Mouthguard Club recently sponsored the men’s and women’s Israeli national football teams for their performances in the International Federation of American Football’s 2019 European Flag Football Championships.
This year’s championships, held Aug. 29 through Sept. 1, were hosted in Israel for the first time. Hundreds of players participated from 10 countries in the men’s tournament and 11 countries in the women’s tournament.
Mouthguard Club supplied each player on the Israeli teams with their own custom-made mouthguard. The mouthguards were fitted for each individual athlete, and included the player’s initials and jersey number, along with the Israeli team’s logo.
Craig Weiss, Mouthguard Club’s co-founder and CEO, said it was great to be able to sponsor the Israeli teams.
“It’s so much fun when your business allows you to do something that fits with
your personal passion,” Weiss said. “Blair
and I are very passionate about Israel…
We’re very Zionistic.”
The transportation of the mouthguards was facilitated by one of Weiss’ long-time friends, Ken Zwiebel. Zwiebel hand-delivered the mouthguards to the players at the games.
“They flipped out,” Zwiebel said. “They were all so excited to have their own personalized mouthguards with their initials and the logo on them.”
Zwiebel was once the quarterback for the Israeli men’s national flag football team. He was added to their hall of fame in 2012.
Mouthguard Club’s other co-founder is orthodontist Dr. Blair Feldman. Feldman flew out for the championships in order to make sure the supplied mouthguards were fitting correctly. He said that it was a great honor to be able to both sponsor and attend the international gathering.
“Mouthguard Club was proud to be able to support the Israeli national flag football teams at the European Championships,” Feldman said.
Feldman added that sponsoring the team was also a good opportunity to test their long-range capabilities of scanning athlete’s mouths in one part of the world and then constructing the customized mouthguards here in Arizona.
The mouthguards that Feldman and Weiss supplied were unique because of the special 3-D scan that each player had to have of their mouth. Most custom mouthguards
cost hundreds of dollars more than generic ones due to fit and the ability to speak while wearing them. That means that many non-professional athletes have never had a fitted mouthguard before.
Weiss said most of the athletes on the Israeli flag football teams aren’t professional athletes and that they only play because of their love for the game.
“They’re not making any money doing this … they don’t have big sponsors, they don’t have big budgets,” Weiss said. “I kind of feel like we’re not only doing something nice, but we’re kind of helping the underdog.”
Feldman said that the most difficult part of sponsoring the Israeli teams was finding one of the 3-D scanners in Israel. This was ironic because the scanners are actually produced in Israel, but they were eventually able to find one and complete the process.
Zwiebel said that he would like to see even more sponsorships of Israeli brands in the future.
“These types of things — Americans supporting Israeli teams and being involved and interested in big events in Israel — help to bridge the gap of American Jewry and Israeli Jewry,” Zwiebel said.
Weiss agreed that it’s good to take up opportunities to bridge these types of gaps, and that sports is often a great equalizer in bringing people together.
“For these athletes, to be able to see that there’s American Jews who care about them and are spending their time and money to give them a better experience hopefully give them a better feeling about us,” Weiss said. JN