Women’s football is continuing to gain ground in Azerbaijan. Further evidence of that came last Friday, when the city of Quba hosted the third stage of the Live Your Goal campaign that is currently making its way around the country.
The aim of this initiative is to encourage girls and women to take up football. And just as in Baku and Zagatala, the first two stops on the campaign trail, the ladies of Quba came out in force to support this ongoing festival of football.
“The development of women’s football is one of our FA’s priorities,” said Elkhan Mammadov, the Secretary General of the Azerbaijan Football Federation (AFFA) and Chairman of the Local Organising Committee of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Azerbaijan 2012. “We are working hard to ensure that women’s football attracts as many people as possible. The festival is the third to be organised jointly by FIFA and the AFFA, and we will be reaping its benefits in the near future.”
Special guests at the event were former Azerbaijan international Asim Khudiyev and current national-team linchpin Mahir Shukurov, both of whom expressed their delight at the progress being made.
“Women’s football has never been that popular here, and I’m thrilled to see them playing the game,” said Khudiyev, while Shukurov said he would be giving his complete support to developing the sport in his country.”
The day’s events got off to a musical start, with famous Azeri artist Chingiz Mustafayev performing on his guitar. The participants then got to work on their ball skills, all under the watchful eye of some well-known experts in the field, who passed on their advice.
“I know the huge impact this festival has on young women, and it’s providing a whole new perspective of women’s football,” said Mustafayev, who was also present at the launch of the campaign in Baku on 10 March. “Before, young girls didn’t have the chance to play with the boys in the school playground. Things have changed, though, and now they can live out their passion freely.”
A mainstay of Azerbaijan’s U-17 women’s team, Jale Massimova, can relate to that. “I’ve been passionate about football ever since I was a little girl, and I’m delighted that today I’m able to do what I love the most: play this game and represent my country across the world,” she said, before making an impassioned plea: “I call on all the girls who love football to join us and achieve their goals through the sport.”