Chilean women’s football is on the up and up. The South Americans have built on the success of hosting the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2008 by qualifying for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Trinidad and Tobago 2010. Their participation in the football tournament at the first Youth Olympic Games should give their development further impetus.

Rodrigo Valdes’s U-15s play their football in the Chilean league and began their build-up to Singapore 2010 in May, with preparations shifting up a couple of gears during the winter school holidays in July. As well as training twice a day, the young Chileans have also played a series of friendlies, picking up some impressive results along the way.

A qualified coach, the 43-year-old Valdes has a degree in Education and is also a PE teacher. Starting out with the youth teams at Colo Colo in 1998, he spent two years at Cobreloa before returning to El Cacique in 2005. He took charge of the national U-20 team last year, steering them to fourth place at the South American Championships this March, which was not quite enough for a place at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Germany.

Taking up the U-15 post in May, Valdes can count on two experienced performers in his squad, namely the talented Colo Colo midfielder Montserratt Grau - a skilful and fleet-footed playmaker - and the Universidad de Chile forward Gabriela Aguayo, who offers plenty of pace and mobility up front.

Speaking exclusively to FIFA.com, the coach explained what Singapore 2010 means to him and his players: “We are honoured to be representing both our country and our continent in this tournament, and it is a responsibility we are more than happy to shoulder. Our aim is to go as far as possible and to ensure our players grow on a personal level by mixing with people of other cultures and integrating with athletes from other disciplines and countries.”