“Football brings people together from all over the world, unites them and makes them happy. Just like music. That’s why I love both football and music. They go together really well”, German pop singer Oceana said before her concert on 18 September in the Fan Zone of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Azerbaijan 2012, highlighting what makes football so special.

From 15 September to 13 October fans enjoyed a fabulous festival of football which was not limited to the stadiums of Azerbaijan, the tournament’s host country which stretches from the Caspian Sea to the Caucasus, but also took place in a very special location. For 29 days aficionados of the beautiful game could fuel their passion at the Fan Zone in the heart of Baku.

Mini football turf pitch inspires kids
The Fan Zone, which was open from 12.00 until 22.00 with a varied entertainment programme every day, was the highlight of the event for many. A variety of national and international artists performing on the stage as well as a range of stands created a lively atmosphere.

But the main attraction on the Seaside Boulevard was without doubt the mini pitch provided by Edel Grass, a FIFA Preferred Producer for football turf. Girls and boys, young talent and experienced players alike were keen to show off their skills on the 12 x 20m pitch. Many players put up with long waits for their turn to finally play on the pitch. And even some of the stars of the New Zealand squad didn’t pass up the opportunity to have a kick about on the inviting turf in the Fan Zone. In its stunning setting with a view of the Caspian Sea on one side and the exotic silhouette of the old town on the other, it was an irresistible proposition.

The football turf pitch is there to stay
“I keep coming back here with my grandchildren. They enjoy spending several hours here. It’s always full here at the Fan Zone, and most of the visitors are young, so the Fan Zone is the best place for youths to spend their leisure time,” said Nazim Agayev, a keen footballer as a youngster.

Now a piece of the Fan Zone will remain for the young people of Azerbaijan to continue enjoying in the future. At the end of the tournament FIFA, together with the FIFA Preferred Producer Edel Grass, donated the football turf pitch to the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan (AFFA). It is now up to AFFA to decide where the pitch’s permanent home should be.