Slovakia midfielder Dominika Škorvánková is urging her teenage counterparts to make the most of their chance to represent the host country at the Women's U19 finals.
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With the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship kicking off in Slovakia on Tuesday, the country's four-time female footballer of the year Dominika Škorvánková tells her junior counterparts to make the most of their opportunity to shine.
Indeed the 24-year-old midfielder has fond memories of the WU19 event even though she never reached the finals herself – with her biggest career break so far coming instead with German Bundesliga club Sand.
What does it mean to Slovakian women's football to host this final tournament?
It's an important moment, that's for sure. The tournament offers the girls a platform to showcase their talent and it's a unique opportunity for them. I believe Slovak football will benefit from this championship, both during and after.
How important are tournaments like these for young players still learning the game?
Very important. Every match, every training session with the national team is a bonus – especially when you play against strong teams like Germany or England. Players gain experience. You don't play games like these every day, especially at U19 girls' level. I never had a possibility like this.
What did you enjoy most about the 2009 qualifying tournament for this championship?
The first time I wore the national shirt, I was a little bit frightened, but playing for the U17s and U19s helped me grow as a footballer, to become more confident. In 2009 we drew with England and Scotland and we were 1-0 down against hosts Slovenia yet we turned it round and won 4-1. It was the first time we had reached a second qualifying phase. It was wonderful! We all believed we would win; we played as a team.
As Slovak women's player of the year, you are well placed to say what it takes to reach the top.
You have to be lucky, but fortune also favours those who work hard. You have to be focused, to prioritise. Give 100% to football, just go for it. Don't divide that time with social media. There is no other way to be successful.
How did you get into football in the first place?
I played because I wanted to, from the age of four. I played with the boys in my village, Dunajska Luzna near Bratislava. Once my mum was watching and none of the other spectators believed I was a girl – I remember scoring in that game and they all thought I was a boy. When I was 11, I moved to Bratislava to play for Slovan. I knew from my early teens that I wanted to play at the highest possible level.
What is your career ambition now?
I am playing in Germany – one of the best leagues in Europe – so I am living my dream with Sand and right now I am satisfied. As for the national team, I would love to play at a major finals one day. We are improving but still not quite getting the results for some reason.