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Group A rivals pinpoint educational priorities

Education, pride and a desire to raise the game's profile were the overriding themes as the Group A rivals outlined their UEFA European Women's U17 Championship ambitions.

The Group A coaches pose with the trophy
The Group A coaches pose with the trophy ©Sportsfile

An overwhelming sense of pride and gratitude permeated the Group A coaches as they discussed their UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship ambitions today.

England boss Lois Fidler, in particular, cut an ebullient figure at the pre-tournament press gathering at St George's Park, with her nation preparing to host the inaugural eight-team finals in the English Football Association's (FA) 150th year. "It's such a privilege to be involved for the first time since 2008," she said. "We're really keen to raise the profile of women's football and get more girls involved in the sport. It's a fantastic opportunity."

Fidler also highlighted the educational value of England's campaign as they get to grips with the demands of international football. "I hope the players enjoy it, learn and appreciate how important preparation is. These tournaments are so important for their individual growth, as players seek one day to make the step up to the senior side," she explained.

For Portugal, meanwhile, this event represents an invaluable opportunity to showcase the talent that steered them through qualifying as the best elite round runner-up from Group 3. "We want to show our quality and spread magic at this tournament," said tactician Susana Cova. "We want to improve and bring players through. With this large media interest, it's important to show how good we are and inspire more girls to play football in Portugal."

Italy are also driven by a desire to shine in the English Midlands, with trainer Enrico Sbardella vowing not to compromise on his attacking instincts ahead of Tuesday's opener against the hosts. "We will play a technical game on the front foot," he said. "It's difficult to teach the girls how to defend without the ball. We played England last year and Portugal this year. We've also faced Austria, so it's wonderful to tackle these teams once more and show what we're capable of."

Austria share the Azzurrine's infectious ambition despite taking their place at a final tournament for the first time. "We are immensely proud to be here – it's a milestone for us," enthused coach Dominik Thakhammer, who has masterminded unprecedented success since taking the reins in 2011. "We expect to be involved in a very tough group but anything is possible. Our aim is to fulfil our potential. We didn't expect to be here, but we are thanks to the progress of the academy since 2011. We want to enjoy the experience – the players are very excited."

Group A fixtures
Tuesday: England v Italy, Austria v Portugal 
Friday: Italy v Portugal, England v Austria
Monday: Portugal v England, Italy v Austria

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