Newcastle Emlyn LFC quartet Amanda John, Carrie Slack, Debbie Wise and Carys Davies are used to being the centre of attention on the football pitch in the Welsh Women's Premier League. Yet this month they have been relishing background roles, as volunteers at the 2013 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship.
"We've been publicising it, trying to get people to come and when they do they always say how impressed they are. The organisation of the tournament has been fantastic, it's been so professional and I just hope it has an impact on women's football in Wales," said midfielder John, who has taken annual leave from her job as school sports coordinator and PE tutor to work as a volunteer coordinator at this event.
"Having the top seven teams in Europe playing their football here has shown us what Wales need to do to reach the top level," she added. "We've seen the benchmark. Hopefully this tournament will inspire young girls to play football – it's certainly inspired me, I just wish I was ten years younger!"
Former Welsh youth international Slack has been working on the competition's volunteer programme and on promoting this final tournament. She said: "Kids come along and get to see what playing for your country entails and the parents get to see how professional it is too. Hopefully it'll inspire kids to one day want to play at this level. I just tell young players that – if they enjoy it – stick at it, get involved with your local club, work hard and hopefully one day you might represent your country and make your family proud."
"I see this tournament as a real opportunity to promote the game and show what's possible for players to achieve, if they want to reach highest level," said Wise, the West Wales football inclusion officer for the Welsh Football Trust. "Hopefully it will inspire people to get involved in the game – whether that's as a player, a volunteer, a coach or any role in which they feel they can contribute to the women's and girls' game in Wales."
And as high-level players themselves, what have they made of the performances out on the pitch? "The semi-final between France and Germany was a great example for the sport," said Wise. "You just need to look at the superb athleticism of the players, their physiques. For any young player looking at these games they can see what kind of commitment is required to compete with the very best in the world and Europe."
Right-back Davies, meanwhile, believes she is already seeing a positive knock-on effect in her post running Newcastle Emlyn's junior girls' section. "I coach a lot of girls and [during this tournament] a lot of them have mentioned to me how they'd love to play for their country when they're older. Now this tournament's been in Wales, they've been able to see first hand that it actually is achievable. If you work hard, don't give up and want it enough then anything is possible."
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