The Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan (AFFA) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) are using the power of football to communicate with boys and girls across Azerbaijan.
Following talks about UNICEF's support of AFFA projects aimed at developing women's football in the country, a memorandum of understanding was agreed by the two organisations. This was signed at AFFA headquarters by AFFA general secretary, Elkhan Mammadov, and UNICEF's representative in Azerbaijan, Mark Hereward.
According to the document, the AFFA and UNICEF will run schemes to increase participation in sport among children and young adults, especially girls, and will look to promote awareness of healthy lifestyles. The two bodies will also arrange joint training courses for football coaches from sports schools, with a special emphasis on training more female coaches.
Any courses will feature sessions on healthy living, life skills and children's rights. Masterclasses for children in all regions of the country are also being given by the Azerbaijan women's Under-17 team. Other activities planned are summer sports camps and sports festivals with a focus on getting girls participating in sport and, as a corollary of this, engaging their parents and teachers too.
"We believe in the power of football," said Hereward. "We believe sport not only helps children grow physically strong, but also builds confidence and self-esteem that will serve them throughout their lives. Sport is one of the most powerful ways to teach young people to play fair. It also teaches respect for opponents, teamwork, tolerance and integrity. It helps young people reject corruption, drugs, violence and other dangerous behaviour."
Mammadov added: "The AFFA is pleased to cooperate with UNICEF through a number of activities that will raise the visibility and popularity of football and contribute to awareness of healthy lifestyles among young people. It will also help attract girls to football. This partnership is important to the AFFA, as it is about not only football but sport and development in general."
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