Fashion blogger, football player and now crowd favourite. Eden Avital, 18, discusses the joy of playing at WU19 EURO, taking on France and realistic ambitions.
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Eden Avital is getting used to the limelight. The 18-year-old striker is already a popular fashion blogger on Instagram, with thousands keeping up with her stylish snaps. Now they are singing her name in Israel's most impressive stadiums. Avital cannot mask her enthusiasm. Beaming for photographs, she says: "It is great to play here, everything is exciting."
Israel are the Group A underdogs, yet women's football will undoubtedly benefit from the WU19 EURO. It is a rare opportunity for players to play in a final tournament, and has whipped local fans into a frenzy. Almost 2,500 attended Israel's opener against Sweden, a record home crowd for the country at this level, and they've even come up with personalised terrace chants for the girls.
"It was the first time I had played in front of such a big crowd. I think it's the biggest we have ever played in front of, which is amazing for Israel. It was disappointing to lose, but we are used to playing in front of our family and close friends, maybe no more than 40 or 50 people. At the Sweden game it was thousands, all singing our names. And it was on TV here.
"We hope for an even bigger crowd against France, it is so exciting for us. I hope the crowd will be loud and encourage us again, and shout for the whole game. We never give up, whatever the score. We play until the end. That's what the coach has taught us."
Clearly it will take more than a 3-0 defeat to dampen spirits. "Losing is bad, but it's not that bad. We know they are all better than us, and they can play better than us, but we worked hard. It is progress. Sweden played long balls, which were hard for us as they are much taller than us; France are more technical and that will be different.
"I actually think we can play better against more technical sides, it will be easier for us. Sweden were too long [with their play] and too tall. We have an advantage because we are used to the temperature here and we're really looking forward to playing France. As I say – we never give up."
France v Israel kicks off at 21.15 local time in Netanya on Saturday. Tickets for that match and the others on Matchday two cost 10ILS (€2.50) and are available either at the stadiums or via this link. The site is in Hebrew.