Among the highlights of the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship final round in Nyon this week are the activities surrounding the tournament – such as the chance for local youngsters to hone their skills and, along with other spectators, meet the star tournament ambassador and special guests.
UEFA has given local schools the opportunity to take part in fringe activities such as skills sessions with the stars, run with the help of the Geneva and Vaud cantonal football associations (ACGF and ACVF). In addition, the public have the chance to get the autographs of the famous faces involved.
At semi-final day on Tuesday, a DJ from Rouge FM, an official sponsor of the event, mixed live from the stadium. For the third-place play-off and final on Friday, it will be the turn of youngsters from the Nyon creative arts association (ADAC) to take centre stage. This final round is proving to be a festive occasion for all those who venture to Nyon's Colovray Stadium, opposite UEFA headquarters.
On Tuesday, former France goalkeeper Grégory Coupet and Martina Moser, the Switzerland midfielder who has won a record 83 caps for her country and was a keen participant in the skills sessions, were present to meet fans.
On Friday, the tournament ambassador, Switzerland legend Stéphane Chapuisat, will watch the climax of the finals, and another Swiss star, Caroline Abbé, will come for the skills sessions and to help promote the women's game.
Coupet was delighted to be asked to come to Nyon. "I know women's football quite well," he told UEFA.com. "I know the women's Ligue 1 in France, I know [women's] football through the French national team as well. So now I will discover the women's U17 level – and maybe a few talented players as well.
"There is a real development," he added of the growth of women's football. "I have a little girl and ten years ago if she would have asked me if she could become a football player, I would have hesitated. But at the moment it is something very normal and having a girl who plays football is a very good thing."
The ex-Olympique Lyonnais No1 said the tournament would give the players a wealth of new experiences. "When you talk about international level, you must talk about winning and representing your country," he explained. "Winning is important, of course, but that attitude and behaviour are crucial. It is a great to opportunity for the players to show what they can do – it is a very important stage for them."
Moser, who plays in the Frauen Bundesliga for TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, said: "It is great fun with the young kids, especially when they see that you can play football. You can play football with them and they are happy.
"It is always nice to be here and to see all these football-loving kids, and also a lot of girls who are here to enjoy the day. It is certainly a highlight for the U17 girls to be here and to play in these semi-final and final matches. It's great to see how excited they are and them taking part."
Moser welcomes the flourishing nature of women's football, especially at youth level. "You can see the young talents a lot earlier," she said. "If you look at the quality of football being played here at the U17 final round then it's really fun to watch them play.
"It was different in the past: you came into the U19s at a very young age, but now you have U17 teams and, in certain associations, U16 or U15 sides. The development you can see is great and it is great for women's football."
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