The Israel Football Association launched its first women's football academy in September, with the hope that it will increase standards and participation in the sport.
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The Israel Football Association (IFA) has established its first national women's football academy, with 21 selected players enrolled in September.
This professional academy is the IFA's first step towards a better future for women's football in Israel. The basic values of the academy are excellence, fair play, teamwork and achievement. The aim is to allow talented young women to maximise their potential through optimal training in optimal conditions and to achieve creditable results in important international tournaments.
One such tournament is the final round of the 2014/15 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship, which Israel is hosting and in which the 21 academy players are expected to be involved.
The academy's coaching staff include head coach Guy Azouri, who has previously led top men's teams in Israel, and his assistant, Jan Telesnikov, a former player who also has experience of coaching in the top flight.
The girls will be at the academy 24 hours a day, Sunday to Thursday, for 11 months a year. They will practice twice a day and will play in both the boys' league and the women's first division.
The IFA will provide the athletes with the following: the best training conditions, a boarding school, top sports facilities, a state-of-the-art gym, specialist staff for check-ups, follow-ups and development programmes, access to sports medicine and research department on campus, a support structure comprising physicians, nutritionists, physiologists, psychologists and other specialists, injury rehabilitation, and a social and educational team.
This is another milestone in the IFA's efforts to reduce the gap in women's football standards between Israel and the countries that first made the game so popular and successful. The IFA regards this as something that will make a big difference to people's perceptions of women’s football and should bring more girls into the game.