Poland took huge strides in 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying when they came within a match of the play-offs and Wojciech Basiuk is determined the next campaign will be even better.
Basiuk, already coaching the Under-19 team, has now added the senior squad to his portfolio, with a long-term plan to raise the standard of women's football in Poland, who were pipped to the UEFA Women's EURO 2013 play-offs by Russia, having previously had their hearts broken by Ukraine in their World Cup campaign. As they await the 2015 World Cup qualifying draw on 16 April, the 44-year-old is a man on a mission.
UEFA.com: What are you looking to bring to the team?
Wojciech Basiuk: We are aware of the players' potential in Poland, but as a technical staff, we want to bring some freshness to the team. Our staff will motivate the players in a new way. We have interesting people on the staff – people with vision, experience and technical knowledge. I would also like to emphasise that my predecessor Roman Jaszczak built a good squad which can be now supplemented. Mixing young players of potential with experienced ones is a wise direction, and one we will also take.
UEFA.com: How will you be able to combine coaching two squads?
Basiuk: We have based our set-up on Czech and Irish ideas. I know some people have been critical about that, but people are generally sceptical about new things. There are a few federations which have this system. Of course financial aspects play a part here, but we have to run things wisely, sensibly and effectively.
UEFA.com: How will you organise things when you have both teams together for two-day training camps?
Basiuk: It's not that hard. We have, basically, the 36 most talented players in one camp at the same time – 18 young players and 18 older ones. For the first half of the camp we are only with the senior team. On the Thursday the young players arrive, and we will have medical tests for everyone. The young players will also have the opportunity to meet the older ones, and we will play a match between the two teams consisting of the best female players in the country. I ask for patience. We have to try, and I believe this innovation will be positive.
UEFA.com: What are your expectations?
Basiuk: We have to keep our feet on the ground. It would be a rash to promise qualification for the World Cup, but do not forget that these young players coming into the first team have UEFA Women's EURO 2017 ahead, with 16 teams qualifying. These young players, who will be working hard with the experienced ones, could be the core of the team that will play in EURO 2017 qualifying. What we want to do is to prepare a team for something that is achievable. In football you cannot get results in one year.
UEFA.com: Your senior team has not changed much since 2013 qualifying...
Basiuk: If José Mourinho came here, he would call up a similar team. We know how it looks, but also about the potential we are dealing with. For me it is more like a mission than a job. Results aside, there are other things you cannot see. Popularisation, spreading the women's game across the whole country, attracting people, and so on.
I have already spoken to some men's clubs, for example Zagłębie Lubin, trying to convince them to try opening women's sections. It doesn't cost much but it is worth doing. These things are important. If in a few years we have 20,000 female players, we can say we have accomplished something.
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