Swiss gearing up for 2006

Plans are firmly in motion for the 2005/06 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship in Switzerland.

By Kevin Ashby

The 4th UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship may only have recently finished, but already the plans for next season's edition in Switzerland are firmly in motion.

As the head of the Swiss Football Association's women's football division, Béatrice von Siebenthal will spend the next 12 months spearheading the tournament's organising committee. The 41-year-old, who also coaches the senior team, was in Heviz to see how the Hungarian hosts fared as well as finalising the plans for 2006 with UEFA officials.

UEFA invite
"We spent time looking at the organisation in Hungary, looking at the problems they've had for instance," she told "It's always useful to look at former organisers as it's interesting to see how people go about things in different countries. We were invited by UEFA to learn from this and talk about our plans for hosting the event."

'On merit'
Switzerland have qualified for three of the last four WU19 final tournaments yet never advanced beyond the group stage, although they did defeat England 2-1 in a play-off last week to seal a spot in the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women's World Championship. "We talked about hosting a tournament years ago but I always said that I want to qualify at least once on merit and prove ourselves at this level first," Von Siebenthal said.

'Very interesting'
"It's good to have these final tournaments to help development in different countries - if we stayed in Germany, Sweden and Norway for example it wouldn't help women's football in Europe - but I feel it's good to have the experience of playing in a tournament before staging one. The coaches and players are really looking forward to it and it's something very interesting for me.

Two centres
"We've just started moving on with the planning. We have chosen two regions in Berne and Zurich which are good areas for women's football. The next step is to find the hotels that will be our point of departure. We will then look for women's clubs who are not too far away from the hotels and ask them if they want to be involved in the competition - be it as drivers, ball girls, whatever they can do."

Proud tradition
Switzerland have a proud tradition of staging youth tournaments and in 2008 will co-host the UEFA European Championship with neighbours Austria, and Von Siebenthal will use the experience of such events to ensure the smooth running of next year's finals.

'Great thing'
She said: "The time was right to do something with women's football as we've had U21 and U19 final tournaments for boys and of course have EURO in the future. For young women footballers in Switzerland it will be a great thing."