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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

International athlete spotlight: a conversation with Ariel Hadar

Ariel Hadar had an assist on one of the goals in the Hawks 3-0 win against St. Bonaventure on Oct. 22. PHOTO:KELLY SHANNON ’24/THE HAWK

Ariel Hadar, a junior midfielder for the St. Joe’s men’s soccer team, transferred from the University of Central Florida (UCF) this summer. Hadar, who is currently earning his MS in Business Analytics, from Tel Aviv, Israel, has plenty of experience beyond college soccer. He played 75 matches overseas for multiple clubs in Liga Leumit, the second division of professional soccer in Israel.

 He also represented his home nation on their Under 21 (U21) National Team. 

The Hawk spoke with Hadar about what his transition to college soccer in the U.S. has been like, and how he is acclimating to Philadelphia and St. Joe’s during his first few months on campus.   

The Hawk: What was it like growing up in Tel Aviv?

Hadar: It is amazing, to be honest. The weather is good all year. There’s good food. A lot of places to hang out, to chill, bugs and nature.

The Hawk: What was your very first impression of the United States?

Hadar: My first impression was, “Wow, this is big.” Compared to other places in the world, if you’re coming from Europe or other places, they are nice, but it is small. It is very compact. But in the U.S., every place is so big. 

The Hawk: Had you been to the United States before you got to UCF?

Hadar: No, it was my first time.

The Hawk: Have you had the chance to go into Center City? 

Hadar: Of course.

The Hawk: Where did you go?

Hadar: I like to go to rooftops and stuff, to see the skyline. The skyline of Philly is so nice. It feels like New York but just a little smaller. There are also restaurants. One of them is Zahav. The owner of Zahav is Jewish. He opened a lot of branches around Philly. It’s a coffee shop. If you are looking for a good coffee, it is there. I like to travel around, go to Rittenhouse Square, all these places. I like to chill there and hang out with friends.

The Hawk: Where is a place in the U.S. that you have not been to but that you would like to go to?

Hadar: There are two places. One of them is Nashville. I have heard a lot of things about Nashville that I want to experience. The other one is Hawaii.  I like to travel. There are a lot of places I have seen. Last summer I was in California, Montana, the national parks — for a month.

The Hawk: What has your experience at St. Joe’s been like so far?

Hadar: So I have been here for two months, and I can compare it to UCF. So UCF, it is a huge school. I think it has close to 70,000 students. And St. Joe’s is small, but nice. The difference that I feel is that St. Joe’s feels more like home. Sometimes when the school is big, you can just be one of many, but at St. Joe’s, I feel like I’m at home. I feel like people actually care about me and want my best. In every aspect, off the field and on the field, there is more of  a feeling of family. 

The Hawk: What was it like playing for the U21 Israeli national team?

Hadar: It was amazing to play against other international teams that have most of their players right now playing at the highest level for soccer. It is something that encourages you to improve because you see the level of skill and say, “Okay, I want to be there. I want to be part of that.” It was a nice experience, and you can learn a lot because you see the level and you see the intensity of the game. You see that you need to work harder, to be more focused, to do extra work if you want to stay at this level or be a soccer player. It is all about consistency and determination. 

The Hawk: What is your favorite venue you have ever played in?

Hadar: When I was 13 years old, I played in Spain for Villareal. I played there for seven months. One time, there was a tournament. It was us, Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, big names. Not Barcelona, but all the other teams. It was the final game, and it was in the Villareal stadium [in Estadio de la Ceràmica]. There were six or seven thousand people there. So it was a nice experience. 

Also, in Israel, I played in a cup against the first division, and there was around 10,000 fans that came to watch. So it was a really nice environment when a lot of people came to watch and give support.

The Hawk: Is there a place or venue that you haven’t played yet that you want to?

Hadar: I think everyone wants to play in Liverpool, at Anfield. It is the dream for everyone to get in the stadium, hear the fans singing and having fun. 

The Hawk: Do you plan to continue playing after college?

Hadar: I don’t really know. I am looking for my next game. I am trying to do my best every game, every practice. I give 100%. Sometimes chances come, and sometimes they don’t. I’m doing my part and then I hope the rest is going to be fine. 

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