Saturday 25 June 2016, 08:31

Bachmann: Russia 2006 was a fantastic adventure

Can you remember what you were up to at the tender age of 15? Perhaps you were pondering your future, or finding love for the first time. Your memories may be crystal clear or fading fast, but Ramona Bachmann certainly recalls what she was doing. Back in 2006, she became one of the youngest players to feature at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship when she represented Switzerland at the tournament in Russia. Bachmann was also a member of the Swiss squad at the 2010 edition of the competition in Germany but remembers her first major tournament as if it were yesterday.

"2006 was an incredible experience for me,” the Wolfsburg striker recalled in an interview with "Being able to take part in such a big competition – seeing how it all worked and playing against other countries at that level – was the most fantastic adventure. My second major tournament was in Germany, where I asked a lot of myself. Although we all set ourselves ambitious targets after reaching the semi-finals in Europe with the same team the previous year, things didn’t work out the way we hoped in Germany."

In 2010, Switzerland’s U-20s were forced to head home after suffering three defeats in the group stage, just as they had done in Russia four years earlier, but by then Bachmann’s career had taken a meteoric rise. She signed for Swedish team Umea in early 2007, where she formed a fruitful strike partnership with Brazil superstar Marta, and made her full international debut that same summer, proving just how instrumental the U-20 World Cup had been in furthering her development.

Stepping onto the biggest stage of all" when you consider that I played at the World Cup in Canada last year," the 25-year-old confirmed, adding: “Of course, that’s another level entirely but having experienced something similar already, whether at U-17, U-19 or U-20 level, is definitely an advantage. Those tournaments work in a similar way: you play several games within a short space of time while having to make sure you eat well and recover properly. They give you the chance to play against the best players from other countries and learn something from them; you can see how high the bar is set,” she said. “You can also identify where there might be one or two things you still need to work on in order to keep playing at the highest level internationally."

Since 2006, Bachmann’s technical skills, intelligent understanding of the game and impressive energy levels have transformed her into one of her homeland’s best players. A permanent fixture in Switzerland’s starting line-up, Bachmann has been taking on an even more prominent role alongside Lara Dickenmann. She demonstrated her qualities on the biggest stage of all at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015, where her three goals and two assists played a key role in helping Switzerland to reach the Round of 16 on their finals debut.

The Swiss have followed up that impressive performance by securing qualification for the UEFA Women’s EURO for the first time, winning six matches out of six. Their dominant 5-0 victory in the Czech Republic on 4 June means they cannot be toppled from the summit of Group 6 with two games still to play. That success, combined with the fact that Die Eidgenossinnen’s current FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking of 15 is their highest to date, is already trickling down into the Alpine country’s youth development efforts.

Voss-Tecklenburg key to Switzerland’s success"We’ve seen progress ever since the national training centre, which I also attended, opened," said Bachmann. "Of course, these things take time: we were 13 or 14 years old when it started. Since then, several of those who went through the centre have made it into the national senior or youth sides and are on their way up in the game. We’ve taken a big step forward."

Bachmann believes that Switzerland’s improvement over recent years is also due in large part to the efforts of coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg. "She’s had a big hand in that success,” the striker said. “She has a real presence, simply knows a huge amount about football, has the gift of being able to share that knowledge with her players and spreads responsibility well across the team. Personally, I think that is very important, as everyone knows exactly what they need to do," she said.

"She’s also really good at filling us with confidence. She came to us in Switzerland and told us we were great at a time when we hadn’t yet enjoyed any success,” Bachmann said. “She brought in a bit of German mentality and got us believing that we really were good and capable of achieving something. You can see how far we’ve come since then; we’re playing really good football."

The same could be said of the striker from Malters, who since arriving on the scene at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2006 has now been named Swiss Women’s Player of the Year on two separate occasions, in 2009 and 2015.