The expansion and development of women's football was a key theme of the 2015 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship, the first women's final tournament to be held in Israel.
In preparation for the finals, the hosts had entered their elite women's U19 players to a national academy where they had trained nine times a week to hone their skills and then entered a team to the top flight of the women's domestic league championship. Ahead of their final group stage match against Denmark, the players' progress was then assessed by French international Laura Georges, who attended a training session to offer inspiration to the team.
The Israel Football Association (IFA) hosted the eight squads and delegations as well as UEFA organisational staff and the local organising committee (LOC) in the coastal city of Herzliya to the north of the Tel Aviv district. Final tournament planning was bolstered by the association's experience of the UEFA European U21 Championship two years before, where Netanya had been one of the four venues and would also stage this final, between Sweden and Spain, a repeat of the 2012 finale. The other three stadiums – in Lod, Ramla and Rishon Lezion – were all accessible within a one-hour drive from tournament HQ.
A record-equalling 48 sides had entered the 2014/15 championship and the skills of the competing finalists were appreciated by crowds in the stadiums, with over 2,000 attending each of the hosts' three matches and 7,230 in the stands for the final, which was a record for the competition.
If players and coaches can benefit from their experience of international competition, then the same can be said for Europe's female match officials. A 16-strong team including six referees, seven assistant referees, two fourth officials and a reserve assistant referee were in Israel, with Finland’s Lina Lehtovaara taking charge of the decider.
UEFA's technical team on site exuded international know-how. Hope Powell (England) and Hesterine de Reus (Netherlands) gave their observations as the basis for this technical report which acts both as permanent record of the final tournament and indicator to coaches working in player development across Europe, as to the emerging and continuing trends in the game. As well as the action on the pitch, the final round included team briefings on both anti-doping and integrity matters in order to ensure that the sport continues to be morally as well as tactically strong.
Hesterine de Reus
Pat Murphy (Sportsfile)