Jarl Torske reflects on his 14 years as Norway's women's U19 coach and looks ahead to his tenth final tournament, on home turf in July, dreaming of a Hollywood ending.
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Norway coach Jarl Torske will bow out at July's UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship after being appointed as an assistant to Per-Mathias Høgmo with the senior men's team. Here he reflects on his 14 years in his current post and looks ahead to his tenth final tournament, when he will pass the 100-game mark in UEFA competition and dream of glory in front of his own fans – the perfect goodbye gift.
I've always been an optimist
Going into my last tournament, here in Norway, it's just fantastic. It's my tenth final tournament. I said that our goal is to play the final in Oslo on 27 July. I think that would be a perfect end for my U19 career. We know it's going to be tough, but I think you've got to dare to dream when you're playing a final tournament at home. Having been runners-up in four finals, it would be great to go the whole way and win a gold medal. There's a long way to go but, as I said, you have to dream.
It's going to be tight
Seven teams qualified for the tournament and none of them were beaten in the qualifying rounds, no defeats. That tells you a little bit about the strength of the teams. It's going to be a very open, it's going to be a very exciting tournament.
The lack of competitive matches is no burden
It has been tough not having qualifiers, but we were prepared and had a lot of time to plan our preparations. We have been doing well. We had four matches against England and Wales, three good matches at La Manga. We played Sweden and have another match in June. It has worked out fine, actually: we've just played good, strong teams. The Netherlands are the only team that has beaten us this year, 2-1 at La Manga. It's going to be a very tough game when we meet again in the finals opener. But we have a strong team, so hopefully we will get our revenge against them.
These finals are important to Norway
It's a long time since Norway hosted a final tournament but this is something we really wanted to do – to work hard to make a good tournament. It's important to showcase women's football in Norway. And we have a good team, a lot of good players, and hopefully there will be good crowds. The final is in the national stadium on the day of the Norway Cup [a grassroots tournament involving around 1,700 teams], a real incentive to get to the final.
The standard is rising
The competition has changed a lot during my time with Norway. New powers have emerged and the competition is much, much stronger than it was in 2001. The development of women's football at youth level in Europe has been tremendous. Just look at how many different teams have contested the final tournament over the past couple of years – that says a lot. The standard of women's football has improved a lot.
It all started in 2001
My first tournament as head coach was in 2001 – actually, it was U18 at that time and only involved four teams. We played Germany in the final, losing 3-2. It was a great match, a very tight match, and though we lost in a way it gave the Norwegian U19 level a kind of boost. We have done well since 2001, to the extent that this is our tenth final tournament. I think I can say that I am an experienced final tournament coach!
I have changed in that time, too
I have always been conscious about altering my staff from time to time because I need people to challenge me, to correct me. The physios have taught me that players need to relax to get fit for matches. As a coach you want to work on set pieces, on organising the defence and things like that; but mostly at a final tournament you must take care of the squad, of the human beings. We work with human beings who play football.
I enjoy coaching as much as ever
I enjoy every game. I enjoy the national anthem and then watching the players having fun on the pitch. Of course, it is satisfying when things work well, but first and foremost it's a pleasure to see how the girls develop, from U19s to the U23s and the senior team. To see them develop as players and also as human beings. When they come back and have finished their education as doctors and teachers and whatever, that is also good to see. I try to have a holistic view.