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The 2013 UEFA European Under-17 Championship will be the first continental tournament that Slovakia has hosted in over a decade, and the country's football community is fully geared up for an event which will deliver positive messages on several levels.
The matches get under way on 5 May, and Slovak Football Association (SFZ) general secretary Jozef Kliment told UEFA.com just how he thinks the finals will benefit his nation. "We hope this tournament will help to promote football at the highest level, but also across our regions," he said.
"That's why the matches are going to be held in different cities and stadiums in order to attract the crowds – also schoolchildren, students, youngsters from clubs and from wider neighbourhoods as well – and get them involved in football so they might become registered players in the future."
SFZ youth and development manager Martin Hasprún added: "It's a tournament which is about youth, and I think the Slovak public perceive it that way. I hope the turnout will be good and the tournament will bring other benefits – it will have an uplifting impact for the positive development of Slovak football."
Kliment continued: "Since 2000, when we hosted the U21 finals, there hasn't been a similar event here. We hope that our national team will be successful and that this event will be a stimulus for the future, because youth is where everything starts."
As for Slovakia's U17 coach Ladislav Pecko, he commented: "We've tried to reduce the pressure [on the players]. It's sport, it's football, and that will be our attitude. But we will approach the tournament with full seriousness and try to get the best out of our players."
View the full video interview above.
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