When students Marija Armus and Barbara Izgarevic became the first licensed women’s futsal coaches in 2015, they never dreamed that only three years later they would fight for Serbia to get its women’s futsal national team. Their original wish was for our country to get a representative in women’s futsal at international university championships and competitions. They succeeded with that in 2016, when they took the University of Belgrade to the European Universities Games in Zagreb. They gladly and with a smile remember every step they took to make the student team a national team.

With Marija Armus, a master engineer of organizational sciences and captain of the women’s futsal A national team of Serbia, we talked about student sports, national selection, but also the importance of studies in the life of every athlete.

When in 2018 she received an invitation from people from the Football Association of Serbia, who were interested in forming a women’s futsal team, she left nothing to chance.

They knew in the Federation that the Faculty of Organizational Sciences (FON), where I studied, has a women’s futsal team, because we were constantly promoting ourselves and doing a great job from the marketing and organizational side. At the moment when they invited me, the international student tournament BEST was approaching. I believed that it was a great opportunity for the selector to come, in order to see which players he has and what the quality of women’s futsal is in our country. Since there is no women’s league under the auspices of the Federation, women’s futsal was played only through student sports, so almost only ‘educated’ girls played futsal“, says Marija.

The organizational skills she acquired at the university, with great enthusiasm, self-confidence and faith that everything imaginable can be achieved, helped her to quickly gather a large number of players and register a team for the tournament.

I called all the possible players I remembered and told them that together we can write history and form the first women’s national futsal team. While she was at work, we only told one of the girls that we had brought her sneakers and that we were waiting for her in front of the company, so that we could go straight to the game. Selector Dejan Majes, together with the people from the Federation, followed the tournament and asked to inform us later about the final decision, but I was persistent and told him that we already have appointments in the hall for the weekend and we can start training immediately. He was surprised, I’m sure he didn’t expect such an answer, but maybe we ‘won’ him that way. Together with him, we made a base of about 50 players and we really trained every weekend, and the girls came to Belgrade even from Novi Sad. For the coach Majes, perhaps the biggest challenge was to lead a women’s team for the first time, but he approached us in the right way and the players quickly fell in love with him. Later, Vladimir Jovanovic, the selector of the young national team, joined us as a coach, whom we also accepted with open arms. Finally, we owe huge gratitude to Mr. Bojan Pavićević, the director of futsal and women’s football at the Football Association of Serbia, who helped us realize our dream.”

The first official match of the women’s futsal A national team of Serbia was played on August 25, 2018 against the national team of Slovenia in Lasko. Historically, the first goal was scored by Marija Armus, who, as captain, also lifted the first cup, won at the Four Nations Cup tournament, in the competition of the national teams of Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Interesting, all the girls who were part of that first team were either female students or had already completed their studies.

It was inevitable that the foundation of the national team would be made up of students. Today, the team is quite rejuvenated, so there are girls who go to high school, but the team has maintained a correct and disciplined attitude towards sports, life and obligations, in order for futsal as a sport to progress and become popular. However, it is interesting how we applied our skills and knowledge, acquired through studies, to futsal. I always had all the information about the players in the Excel – clubs, passport numbers, height, absolutely everything. Barbara took care of the arrivals, goals scored, injuries and that’s how we complemented each other. Whenever the selector asked for some information, the two of us would open the table and surprise him with our dedication. Futsal is, after all, our other name“, points out Marija, who adds that she always tried to apply the subjects from the faculty, through practical work, on the field and in the organization of sports events.

The women’s futsal national team of Serbia was part of the historic, 1st European Women’s Futsal Championship. Considering that the teams qualified on the basis of the coefficient of men’s national teams, our girls found themselves at the show of the best teams of the Old Continent. The first phase of the competition was played in the fall of 2018, according to the principle of a mini-tournament within each of the four groups. Our selection competed with Finland, the Czech Republic and Portugal, which later hosted the final tournament. Unfortunately, Serbia recorded the same number of defeats in three games.

For us, that year was unreal, we made a lot of progress, regardless of the bad result at the European Championship. We have written an important page in the history of Serbian futsal, but we would not have succeeded without the support of many people, who have helped us in every possible way during all these years. We are the most grateful to them, because they were the ones who maintained our tireless enthusiasm. I am thinking primarily of professors from the faculty, people from university associations, friends, managers in the halls where we had appointments, friends from the student media, who followed every step, and my teammates from FON, with whom I built myself as a leader. We made decisions together, which I could later apply to the entire organization in the national team. These are wonderful people who believed in Barbara`s and my idea, even though they may thought that sometimes we fantasize too much, as we think that anything is possible. Of great importance for us was the friendship with the girls from the University of Zagreb. Thanks to them and our acquaintance from previous tournaments, we felt at home at the Games in the Croatian capital, and we tried to follow their example and participate in the same tournaments, trying to follow their rhythm. Every time we meet, we have a visible benchmark of how much we have progressed since the previous meeting.”

The popular Armi convinced herself that only through thorns the stars could be reached, and that everything in life requires good timing.

At FON, you first learn that a plan is nothing, and that planning is everything. Barbara and I embarked on our mission, going step by step, and eventually accomplished the set goal. We became futsal coaches in 2015 and already in 2016 took the student team to the European Universities Games. We made a transfer in 2017, playing in the Croatian championship for the Meteor club, and finally, in 2018, the invitation for the Serbian national team arrived.”

As someone who graduated from the Faculty of Organizational Sciences, majoring in information systems and technology, Marija knows very well how important it is for an athlete to graduate.

Nobody knows what day or night brings. One should think about life after a sports career and have an alternative in case of injuries and everything that is impossible to predict. At the same time, it is good for sports when there are educated people who are able to notice everything that is wrong in the work system and can find adequate solutions. I know a lot of athletes who, at the same time with their professional careers, successfully study and achieve notable results in the field of education. Everything is in good organization. It is difficult, but it is beautiful“, said Marija at the end.