France and Lyon's Marichaud on finals, ambititons

A year on from the first eight-team Women's U17 finals, Respect Fair Play award-winning France captain Julie Marichaud looks back at the event and spells out her ambitions.

Julie Marichaud at the finals last winter
Julie Marichaud at the finals last winter ©Sportsfile

A year has passed since the first eight-team UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship final tournament and although France did not lift the title, they had the consolation of receiving the Respect Fair Play award, presented to captain Julie Marichaud at the 2014/15 elite round and 2015/16 qualifying round draws in Nyon last month.

France exited at the group stage, beaten by eventual winners Germany and runners-up Spain. Marichaud, who scored their only finals goal in the 1-0 defeat of Scotland, was promptly promoted to the U19s, and the 17-year-old Olympique Lyonnais defender will try to help Les Bleuettes to the European finals next summer as they welcome Romania, Iceland and Russia in the elite round from 4–9 April.

Marichaud spoke to UEFA.com about her memories of England last year, the benefits of international football and her ambitions.

On her European finals experience ...

Playing at the EUROs is already exceptional, but to share this with one's friends is even better. We could have done much better, but it's an experience. It's a failure, but we will try to come back with the U19s. Why not try to win it?

On the expansion of the Women's U17 finals from four to eight teams for last season ...

There is pressure because there are a lot more teams. Everyone wants to get to the final and wants to win. The system is not bad. We can play more teams, have a better idea of our standard. We see our qualities and faults. This can give us more for the future.

On foreign travel ...

It's great to meet girls from other nations. We see other cultures, other ways of life. We see other ways of doing things – this can only make us move forward. There are values instilled in us, such as sharing with other countries, other cultures. It is great. We do not have the same language, nor the same habits. We can in turn change things to improve.

On starting in football ...

I started playing football with my brother aged five and a half or six. He played football with friends. I started really enjoying it. I started with the boys and then I went to Olympique Lyonnais. Being a girl playing football in France is not always easy because you have to be accepted by the boys. This is done on the pitch. For a boy, playing well is normal; for a girl, it is not common. We want to prove that even the girls know how to play football.

On women's football in France ...

The development of women's football in France motivates me. Women's football is ramping up with more media coverage. The public pays more attention to girls. We have to push the generations after us to go even further and we must also prove that the girls know how to play football. Hopefully it continues on this path, and why not be as well publicised as the men?

On role models ...

Among my idols, there are men and women. In men's football, Raphaël Varane, women's Wendie Renard. These are two players in my position, they set the standard for me in football. It is important to have role models that allow progress to see what we can improve and what to change. They are exceptional players.

On her next ambitions ...

Before thinking about the France [senior] team, I think about my club because that's where I play all the time. First, I'll get into the Lyon senior team then the national team. Why not play with Wendie Renard if possible? It's certainly one of my goals, but, first, Lyon are the club that will allow me to get into the France team.