For Israel and many countries, the game of soccer, which most of the world calls football, is a symbol of national pride, inspiring passion and loyalty in fans worldwide. A variation of the sport that is gaining traction is called futsal, and the Technion has a winning women’s team.

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

Futsal is a type of soccer with five members per team that is largely played indoors on a much smaller hardcourt. The ball is also smaller and denser, and together these factors ensure a fast-paced, intense game with more opportunity for goal scoring.

The team’s coach is Yasmin Awwad, a Technion graduate and a structural engineer for the Israel Electric Corporation. When Yasmin arrived at the Technion, her mentor told her that she played futsal on the Technion team and asked her to join. Yasmin played soccer for fun as a kid and also in the U.S. when she was here as an exchange student, so she was only too happy 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.”

Yasmin 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 addition to her studies at the Technion, she attended a coaching course at the Wingate Institute, a renowned institution for sports education in Netanya.

After completing the course, she brought women’s soccer to her hometown of Tamra, an Arab Israeli city in the lower Galilee. “We need to give back to the society in which we grew up,” she believes.

“Only when playing football can one understand its positive impact. Training as a 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.”

Yasmin believes it’s only a matter of time before the Technion team is victorious in the university championship. She also points out that one of the team’s past players is Rachel Steinschneider, a graduate of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, who currently plays for the Israeli national team and has also played in the French and Danish leagues.