Norway's reputation as a long-ball team has been slow to fade, but the country's long-serving women's Under-19 coach Jarl Torske told UEFA.com his approach hinges on passing, movement and the subtle art of organisation.
"At the moment Norway are considered a strong, physical team. However, the focus has always been on skill and slick passing," said the experienced tactician. "We have been criticised for hitting long balls but we don't do that; I tell my players to get the ball down and play. When the players come together at national level and for their clubs, it's all about passing."
Torske's philosophy is also shaped by a commitment to hard work, though finding the time to convey such values is one of his greatest challenges. "I focus on the totality of the players, their skills and footballing education," he explained. "Then we look at the structure of the team as a whole. It is difficult to get enough time to practise because they are busy at school trying to make professional careers outside football. You have to work hard – that's what it's all about."
Norway safely negotiated the first qualifying round for this summer's UEFA European Women's U19 Championship in Wales with three straight wins, yet emerging from a second qualifying section containing Group 4 rivals England, Hungary and Serbia will prove a sterner test. "It is extremely important to get through to the final tournament because it gives the players so much experience against the best teams in Europe and the world," said Torske. "A balance of winning and developing the players is crucial."
Torske is targeting his eighth championship finals as Norway boss and while his thirst for success is greater than ever, it has always been diluted by educational priorities. "We aim to get the best result possible but developing the players and adapting to new environments is equally important. Whether we win or lose, it's all about the experience," said the 63-year-old, three times a women's U19 runner-up, having also finished second in the U18 event in 2001.
"I've been to eight European tournaments and ten World Cups so that's a lot of experience," he added. "I feel just as keen now as when I started the job. You learn from it, and from other teams."
The mini-tournament hosts kick off their Group 4 campaign against Hungary on 4 April.
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