European Championship Qualifiers

Technion Women's Futsal Team Qualifies for European Championship. The team's participation was canceled due to the war, but coach Yasmin Awwad believes that the opportunity will come again

Last summer, the Technion women’s futsal team reached new heights following its qualification for the European Championship. Their participation was ultimately canceled due to the war, but the coach and players believe the opportunity will return.

The team’s coach is Yasmin Awwad, a Technion graduate and a structural engineer at the Israel Electric Company. She grew up in Tamra, a town in the Lower Galilee, where she played football for fun as a child. In the 11th grade, she took part in a student exchange program and spent a year in the United States. “There, in schooltime, I played football for the first time in an organized manner, with a coach. I began to understand the meaning of playing as part of a team and how it benefits the players.”

Technion Women's Futsal Team

Technion Women’s Futsal Team

When Awwad arrived at the Technion, her mentor told her that she played football on the Technion team and asked her to join. “Since then, I have always played football. When I finished my first degree, I decided to continue studying for a second degree, simply because I did not want to leave the team.” Awwad completed no less than four degrees at the Technion: three undergraduate degrees (biomedical engineering, civil and environmental engineering, and mapping and geo-Information) and a master’s in urban planning in the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning. In addition to her studies at the Technion, she attended a coaching course at the Wingate Institute, with the aim of bringing football to Tamra. She believes that “we need to give back to the society in which we grew up.”

Fulfilling her dream was not simple. For two years, she ran a football club in Tamra. Then with the help of two partners who believed, as she did, in the power of women’s football, she joined a league club. “This is our fourth year, and today the club has 150 female members, ranging from first grade to graduates. After a year in the state league, we moved up to the national league.” She volunteers with the club out of a desire to create social change through education and sport.

After a year of work and completing her coaching studies, Awwad asked to return to play on the Technion team, but she was told that only students could play. She registered for her second undergraduate degree, and a year later she became the coach of the Technion team.

According to Gaia Levin, one of the team’s veterans: “Girls playing football is not a common sight in Israel, and I believe that teams like ours can serve as an example for girls who might enjoy football.” Levin, a self-described “tomboy” growing up, said “I trained in judo for many years and played some football, but it was only at the Technion sports club that I realized I was good at it and joined the futsal team. It’s a great team sport, and change in this area can benefit many girls and women. There are places where it is perceived as a sport for both men and women, and I would like us to succeed in normalizing this in Israeli society.”

Technion Women's Futsal Team

Technion Women’s Futsal Team

Levin, who completed her undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering and is now pursuing her master’s degree in the same subject said that “beyond the professional aspect, there is a very unique and unusual encounter here. In most people’s daily lives, there are not many direct encounters between Jews and Arabs. Here there are Jewish and Arab women, students from different faculties, aged from 19 to 30. We are all one team and we all have the same commitment, and this activity brings out aspects of us that may not necessarily be revealed in the routine of studying. This team rises above any political opinion and belief and unites us, making us much stronger together.”

Levin points out that one of the past players of the national team is Rachel Steinschneider, a graduate of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, who currently plays for the Israeli national team and has also played in both the French and Danish leagues. She entered the football world at the age of 21, and since then, her career has flourished both locally and internationally.

Yasmin Awwad completed her training at the Wingate Institute, but Wingate did not leave her. “In the ASA (Academic Sports Association) Championships, Wingate is our toughest competitor; so far we haven’t managed to beat their team. Now, with the intensive training leading up to the championship in France, I believe that improvement can lead us to victory in the university championship in Israel and elevate us from second place to first.”

But the aspiration to win is not as important to her as the immense value that football gives to the national team players. “Only when playing football can one understand its positive impact. Training in the team creates a more connected and better society, and in the Technion women’s team, you can see this connection well. It includes Jewish and Arab women, religious and secular, of different ages and with different political positions. All these differences disappear when you play on the pitch. Everything becomes simpler because you can’t win without teamwork.”