RYAN IANNI — Staff Writer
He was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and moved to Ramat Gan, Israel at the age of 2; he was subjected to public terrorist threats; he played in professional Israeli soccer leagues; he served three years in the Israeli Defense Force.
Somehow Yoni Feldman ended up at SCSU.
This is the life journey of the 26-year-old business management major and junior midfielder, who has been living in the U.S. since he was 23 and been a consistent face on the Owls soccer team.
Despite this rollercoaster of events, one thing still remains unclear. Why Southern? “There are not as many terrorist threats for survival in the U.S as there are in Israel,” said Feldman on his life in the Middle East. “I remember a good two years of fear walking in the streets.”
This is not a daily scenario U.S. citizens can relate to. Even with high crime rates in cities like New Haven, it still does not match the potential threat of a terrorist bombing.
Even with this backdrop of fear, Feldman did not seem somber about his childhood memories as he expresses his love for the sport of soccer, which he started playing at age 9.
“My passion was always soccer,” said Feldman, “just playing every day.”
Feldman said his dream was to sign with a professional soccer club, but after finding himself playing in the fifth division of the Israeli soccer league, he decided that going to college might be the smarter option.
However, this was right at the age of 18, where Israelis are drafted for a mandatory three years of service in the Israeli Defense Force. After consulting with his family, Feldman decided that he would go to college in the U.S. after his service was completed.
Feldman applied to numerous schools, many of which were concerned the NCAA would not find him eligible to play because of his age at the time (23). He was eventually contacted by Quinnipiac University, which recommended SCSU, where he decided to stay.
Feldman has since been a constant starter on the team, where he has mastered the art of possession style soccer and inch-perfect passing.
“He’s a talented player,” said head coach Tom Lang, “with outstanding technical ability on the ball.”
Lang also said Feldman’s type of play suits the style Southern has tried to implement over the years, which consists of possessive, passing soccer.
Feldman has also recently been named to the Academic All-District team with his 3.9 GPA.
“The best way to describe him is professional,” said Lang. “He’s on time, he’s prepared, and he puts his work in.”
Feldman is not the only player on the team with an Israeli background. Fellow midfielder Matan Bik lived in Israel until the age of 10 before moving to Connecticut. Bik said Feldman’s superior technical skill come from the fact that in Israel there is an emphasis on ball skill, rather than physical play.
“In my opinion, he’s one of the best players in the conference,” said Bik. “He’s one of the most technical players I’ve seen. Some of the balls he plays through are unbelievable.”
Feldman and Bik can often be heard on the sidelines conversing rapidly in Hebrew and are looking forward to having a successful senior campaign.
“It will be our senior year,” said Bik, “so there’s no tomorrow after this.”
Feldman, who is pursuing two possible careers, would like to intertwine both into his future.
“I’d like to combine the real estate world with the fitness world,” said Feldman through a smile. “I’m still working on it. We’ll see what happens.”