Sahi Pearl lifts the lid on Israel's unique preparations for the WU19 EURO, which saw the hosts' squad living together and forming a team for the country's top division.
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Israel have had unique preparations for the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship, with most of the squad living together at their Israeli Football Association's academy and honing their skills by entering the Women's Premier League and finishing fifth. Captain Sahi Pearl discusses those assiduous preparations, the collective spirit they have fostered and here hopes and dreams for the country's WU19 EURO debut.
We're all very excited. There will be a lot of family and friends and a lot of people will come and see our games, which will make it even better. We live in a boarding school. We're there five days a week, from Sunday to Thursday. We have one or two training sessions every day. We also study at the academy.
Everyone has given up a lot to make our dream come true. We've been together for two years. We depend on each other and that makes us much closer. We believe in ourselves. We want to go as far as possible.
We didn't expect to play in the Israeli Premier League, but we proved to everyone how well we can play. It was very exciting. They're older players and they've been playing for a long time – more than us – so they know all the small things in football. We learned how to go through the season as a team. Now we can show what we learned.
We all put our heart into the game. We may not have been playing as long as the other teams, but we all bring something special of our own that makes us one special team. We strengthen each other and support each other and we're going to give our soul.
My dad was a football player. Since I was young I have always been on the ball. I started playing on boys' teams, until I found a girls' team in Petah Tikva and that's where it all started. We're very optimistic for the future. We hope to make it through [the group stage] so women's football will be even more popular, and even more people will know [about it] and be proud of us.