Béatrice von Siebenthal ended her seven-year spell as Switzerland coach in December and told UEFA.com how the women's game has come on since she first took the helm in 2007.
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The only Swiss woman to hold a UEFA Pro-Licence, Béatrice von Siebenthal ended her seven-year spell in charge of the national team late in December, having taken Switzerland on an impressive run to the FIFA Women's World Cup play-offs. Martina Voss-Tecklenburg has taken over the senior team, with Von Siebenthal concentrating on her role as girls' director at the Swiss Football Association (SFV-ASF) national academy until she departs in July. She looked back on her time in charge with UEFA.com.
UEFA.com: What targets did you set yourself when you took over the national team in 2005?
Béatrice von Siebenthal: We wanted to improve our standing in the rankings, and that meant getting closer to the top ten – we were 16th at the time. And we also wanted to qualify for a major tournament, or at least compete well for qualification.
UEFA.com: You were not far off reaching the 2011 Womens' World Cup in Germany, having won your qualification group. Did that success surprise you?
Von Siebenthal: At the beginning of every campaign, you always believe you can achieve something. Realistically, though, it didn't matter that we won the group, since we were drawn from pot three and had to have two higher-seeded teams below us. At the end of the day it wasn't quite enough. So you can't really say that we could or should have got further than we did.
UEFA.com: What do Switzerland need to qualify for a major tournamen
Von Siebenthal: Control, cutting edge; that killer instinct. Our attacking potential is good, but we need to exploit it. Team organisation is also good, as you would expect from a Switzerland team. We have to be better in one-on-one situations, both in attack and defence. And the team also needs to take a mental step forward, to the point where they can say: 'It doesn't matter who we're playing, we'll play our normal game.' But that takes time, of course.
UEFA.com: Where is Swiss women's football right now, after a seven-year period under your stewardship ?
Von Siebenthal: I've worked for the Swiss Football Association since 1995, first as a youth coach, then as national team coach and most recently as a manager of various initiatives at the top level of women's football. In my first year as national coach, I used 43 players, not because I wanted to, but simply because players would make themselves unavailable when a squad was picked. People complained that national team duty wasn't compatible with club football and the players' commitments outside football.
Since then we've stabilised the team; fewer players have missed games. The fact that they now receive daily allowances is another incentive for reducing their professional workload, but women's football now stands for something different, fundamentally speaking. Today we have an academy where girls take classes in sport. A few years ago it was a completely different situation.
UEFA.com: Thanks to the academy, will we see more junior players force their way into the national team?
Von Siebenthal: It's a trend that we'll see less often. Because players play in the national team for longer, younger players aren't needed at short notice to make the step up to the seniors as often as they were. In those days, we had to fill the senior squad with youngsters, because we had too few players available. Of course, it's still important to have younger players coming through, but now they have the opportunity to prove themselves in the youth teams before they make the step up.
UEFA.com: Your contract with the SFV-ASF ends in July. What do you envisage doing after that? Moving to Germany?
Von Siebenthal: I don't have a clue, but I do want to stay in football – that's my biggest priority. But I also know that vacancies are limited. I am open to something new and wouldn't like to rule anything out, even a job in the men's game – with youngsters, mind you. I'm not bound to Switzerland and I can imagine working abroad, but in a professional and structured environment. You can find that in other places besides Germany.