- Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup takes place on 30 and 31 May 2019
- FIFA.com interviews Switzerland international Noelle Maritz
- The Switzerland international talks about the importance of youth tournaments
With the Wolfsburg U-19 team set to make their Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup debut at this year’s women’s tournament, the second in the competition’s history, we spoke to a player who knows both the club and the host city inside out. Noelle Maritz, 23, is a Switzerland international and has been chasing titles with Wolfsburg since 2013.
Noelle, how important are youth tournaments like the Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup in terms of the development of women’s football?
For talented young players it is unquestionably a huge incentive to play in tournaments like this one because they know they will be able to test themselves against the best, and that they may be spotted.
What kind of traits do young women need if they want to join the professional ranks?
In Switzerland, you either do an apprenticeship or keep studying, so it’s not easy to go to training every evening and give your all. You need a certain level of motivation, but you also have to be quite easy-going. For me though, the most important thing is to enjoy your football.
How did you first get involved in football?
I grew up in the USA, where women’s football is huge. Boys tend to go off and play baseball, but girls play soccer – which is why my parents signed me up for training at a young age, when I was about four or five.
Was that an advantage?
In the USA, development work starts at an early age and you learn the basics and the skills you need when you are still very young. So I would say that is indeed maybe an advantage.
How did your time in the USA shape you as a person?
I definitely have the typical American “never give up” and “keep going” attitude. I was a little bit older when I came to Switzerland, so I played with the boys, went to boarding school and got to see football from a different perspective.
In 2013 you transferred from Zurich to Wolfsburg. What makes Wolfsburg so special?
The fact that we are so close to the men, that we act as one club. That looks very professional, and, well, it is very professional! The club is doing some great work, so it’s hardly surprising that some of the best players in the world join us every year.
How do you think women’s football is developing overall?
We’re certainly going in the right direction. Some countries are now getting attendances of more than 60,000, and that is important for women’s football. So we have to stick at it and keep giving our all so that clubs want to keep developing the women’s game.
What kind of new incentives could be created?
The FIFA Women’s World Cup in France this summer will definitely be a success because the French love their football. I think and hope that the tournament will give women’s football another boost.
Switzerland have not qualified for the World Cup, so what does the future hold?
It was very disappointing not to make it to the World Cup, but we will continue to work hard, especially as the European qualifiers will get underway soon. We need to carry on developing as a team and carry on giving major tournaments our best shot.
And on a personal level?
Personally, my main goal is to make sure that I continue to perform well at the highest level, and to keep developing and moving forward. And of course I want to keep winning titles with Wolfsburg.
Do you think the Wolfsburg youngsters can lift the Youth Cup?
There are some great teams playing this year, but we have a very good academy, so I do believe that the team won’t be coming just to make up the numbers, but to try and go far. Let’s hope the cup comes to Wolfsburg!
Noelle Maritz on …
… her hobbies:
"Whenever I have the time, I of course prefer to do something with friends or family."
… her best moment in football:
"There are many moments that I could list here. But one of the best things is to work hard for an entire season and then win a title at the end of it. Then you know that your hard work has paid off. Winning the Champions League in 2014 was certainly one of the highlights of my career, but so was playing for Switzerland at the World Cup in Canada in front of near-capacity crowds."
… her idol:
"Roger Federer – and not just because he’s Swiss. His success and his career tell their own story. I also like the way he comes across as a person, he’s so modest. I have read many biographies about him and I follow his career closely. What he’s done is simply incredible."