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Statoil Festival warmly received in Azerbaijan

Karim Aghayev, leading the Cross Cultures Project Association's Open Fun Football Schools scheme in Azerbaijan, hailed last month's Statoil Festival for "popularising grassroots".

The Statoil Festival in Azerbaijan ©AFFA

The Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan (AFFA) once again showed its commitment to the Open Fun Football Schools (OFFS) scheme with the successful hosting of the Statoil Festival last month.

The event, attended by a number of AFFA dignitaries, involved 158 children aged between seven and 12 and was the latest example of the association's dedication to promoting grassroots football in the country. Seven-a-side matches, keep-ball games and juggling competitions made for an enjoyable day for all participants.

"The main goal of this festival is the popularisation of grassroots football," said  Karim Aghayev, coordinator of the Open Fun Football Schools programme in Azerbaijan. "It also helps to provide appropriate conditions for kids to spend their leisure time fruitfully, to focus their interest on football and, in future, produce talented players for football clubs. It also helps to attract girls to football. As well as this, many refugees took part, which was a great joy for them."

The AFFA has engaged with the OFFS project since 2003 and now has 85 programmes to its name. This year alone, 16,200 children and 1,190 coaches have taken part in the initiative. There is no sign of the association resting on its laurels, however. "We are planning to organise the Statoil Festival in different regions of the country in 2011," added Aghayev.