Azerbaijan’s campaign to promote women’s football continued on Friday 27 July with an event full of characteristic heart and enthusiasm.
Following festivals in Baku, Zagatala and Quba, the city of Sheki turned host for the fourth "Live Your Goal" event to be held in the country. The touring festival aims to encourage girls and women around the world to take up football, and this latest instalment proved to be yet another roaring success.
“This festival marks a major milestone for the development of women’s football in this part of the country,” said Sadig Yusifov, head of youth and sports for the city of Sheki. “2012 was billed as the year of sport in Azerbaijan. This event, therefore, plays a part in what is a joyful and celebratory year for the country.”
Several special guests attended the event, including former Azerbaijan international Aslan Karimov. He said that “people wrongly believe that football is a sport for men", before adding: "The various achievements of the U-17 women’s team, which was created only two years ago, show that the country is full of talent.”
Shahnaz Mammadova and Gulsum Jafarova are two such talents. The pair, who will represent Azerbaijan on home soil at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2012 from 22 September to 13 October, took some time out to enjoy the fun of the festival in Sheki. “I call on all girls who love football to come and join us, and play with us,” said Jafarova.
The "Live Your Goal" event gave many festival-goers the chance to play in impromptu football matches and soak up the wisdom of well-known coaches. Visitors were also treated to the tunes of local celebrity Azad Shabanov, who lit up the day with a special appearance.
“I’ll do everything I can, by playing my best songs, to make this a memorable festival for the girls of Sheki,” Shabanov said. And he certainly did not disappoint.