“Ives made me an integral part of the coaching team,” the Frenchwoman told FIFA.com. “The day would begin with everyone having breakfast together, and then we’d move on to tactical and mental preparation for training sessions and matches, depending on the timeframes. It was a very rewarding experience.”
Spielmann has seen for herself the impressive progress the Belgians are making. The team placed third in a competition featuring no fewer than five sides that will be taking part at the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™ (Italy, Nigeria, Mexico, Thailand and South Africa).
“I hope Stephanie got a good grasp of the way we work,” said Serneels. “Five years ago we weren’t as good as we are now. The goal is for her to take things away with her and use them in her job with Tahiti. They still have a lot of work to do, I guess, but that was the situation we were in five years ago.”
Currently lying 97th in the FIFA Ranking, the islanders do have room for improvement, though they can take inspiration from the Belgians, who have climbed nearly ten places over the last four years to reach an all-time high of 21st.
“A few years ago Belgium were not what they are today and they’re an excellent example of the progress that can be made,” said Spielmann, who is equally admiring of the qualities of her “mentor”: “I have a lot of respect for Ives. He’s highly respected by his players and his staff, and he’s found the right balance. And I also really appreciate the feeling he has for women’s football.”