Sbardella rallies Italy for WU17 debut

"Each match will be like a final for us," said Italy coach Enrico Sbardella when he spoke to about his side's UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship debut.

Italy coach Enrico Sbardella

Enrico Sbardella was pleased to avoid the "top three teams in Europe" but is taking nothing for granted as Italy make their tournament debut in a section containing Austria, Portugal and hosts England. The Azzurre coach implored his players to savour an occasion bound to produce "memories that will stay with them for the rest of their lives" and stressed the "incredibly important" role of the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship in the development of women's football in Italy. What is your reaction to the draw? 

Enrico Sbardella: It went well in terms of avoiding the top three teams in Europe: Germany, France and Spain. It will certainly be another tough encounter with Portugal, the only team we lost to in the elite round. It will be nice to play England in the opening match of the tournament. What are your ambitions for the tournament?

Sbardella: It is the first time that Italy have qualified for these finals, so it gives us great satisfaction. Now we want to prepare for every match in the right way and play to our potential. We want to enjoy it and not worry too much about objectives. Each match will be a final for us. How important is it for this generation of girls to be playing at this level?

Sbardella: It is incredibly important. Women's football in Italy is still growing and very much in its development stages. We haven't achieved much in the past so the more international games we play, the more opportunities we have to develop. Playing games like this, in such a good atmosphere, means a lot for the players. It means gaining vital experience and provides memories that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.