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Maxi-pitch leaves grassroots legacy in Munich

With a maxi-pitch to be handed over to Berlin this week, UEFA returns to Munich three years after donating a similar facility and finds the pitch has had a major local impact.

Munich: thriving grassroots football on UEFA maxi-pitch
Munich: thriving grassroots football on UEFA maxi-pitch

As part of this year's UEFA Champions League final, Berlin will be granted a new maxi-pitch, the latest German city to benefit from this tradition after UEFA donated a similar pitch to Munich after the 2012 final in the city.

Three years down the road, UEFA has revisited the maxi-pitch to see what impact it has had on the development of football in the area. Bernhard Slawinski, chairman of the Munich football district for the Bavarian Football Association, said: "This pitch has become a meeting point for youngsters who play football here. It is used by schools and clubs and kids from the neighbourhood who play football here just for fun."

Susanne Hufnagel, girl's coach and youth leader of FFC Wacker München 99, remembers the children's reaction when the maxi-pitch was handed over. "We celebrated the inauguration with a five-a-side match on the pitch. The kids were completely overwhelmed to have this smaller pitch with boards around it and with no outline, just street football without any rules."

Demia Böhme, a 14-year-old footballer from Wacker München and a regular user of the facility, added: "I really like playing on this pitch because the game is more relaxed, you get more of the ball and the rules are less strict."

"The maxi-pitch really motivates the students because you can play some great five-a-side or 11-a-side matches and the perimeter boards make the game quicker," said Julian Ettel, a sports teacher from the nearby Klenze Gymnasium. "The children have a lot of fun with it and it's used a lot."

UEFA donates a maxi-pitch to each host city of a major competition final. The tradition started with the kick-off of UEFA's Grassroots Week in 2010, with the goal to nurture football at grassroots level and to boost the passion and joy in playing among boys and girls.

Leaving a legacy that benefits both local communities and the grassroots game, UEFA hopes to witness the same kind of long-term success after the last whistle of this year's finals in Warsaw and Berlin. UEFA presented a maxi-pitch to Warsaw ahead of the UEFA Europa League decider on 27 May while Berlin will inaugurate its new maxi-pitch this Friday, the eve of the UEFA Champions League final at the Olympiastadion.