Azerbaijan is a proud UEFA member association – and its invaluable contribution to the European football family was underlined with its first-ever hosting of a seminar under UEFA's innovative Study Group Scheme, whereby national associations exchange technical know-how for the overall good of the game.
The Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan (AFFA) recently welcomed representatives from the associations of Hungary, Latvia and Serbia for mutual discussions on grassroots football. UEFA's head of football education Frank Ludolph represented the European governing body.
The Study Group Scheme was launched on the initiative of UEFA president Michel Platini. Under the programme, European associations travel to their counterparts for study visits or technical exchanges focusing on areas such as elite youth football, coach education, grassroots and the women's game.
Some 1,850 technicians are expected to participate in the much-heralded technical initiative this season. All of UEFA's 53 member associations are involved, with 28 FAs hosting visits. In addition, each member of the European governing body's Development and Technical Assistance Committee will take part in at least one seminar.
Like their counterparts elsewhere in Europe, Azerbaijan places considerable emphasis on grassroots football, in line with the view that healthy football foundations help bring about a flourishing elite level. "The grassroots are an important and integral part of modern football," said AFFA deputy general secretary Elkhan Asadov. "Consequently, I greatly appreciate the various events organised by UEFA for the development of grassroots football.
"We shared information about the different grassroots events held in our country in recent years and, at the same time, we became acquainted with grassroots football in Hungary, Latvia and Serbia. I am sure such events organised by UEFA will bring fruitful results for the game's development."
AFFA general secretary Elkhan Mammadov added: "On behalf of the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan I would like to express our gratitude to UEFA for organising a UEFA Study Group Scheme seminar in Baku. This seminar showed, once again, that sharing information between different associations is a key part of the development of grassroots football. We have all the necessary conditions for holding such events in our country, which are very useful for the overall development of the game."
In other recent Study Group Scheme exchanges, Belgium staged a seminar on elite youth football for visiting associations from San Marino, Armenia and Luxembourg; Austria hosted a seminar on the same topic for visitors from Albania, Moldova and Romania; and the Netherlands welcomed counterparts from Slovenia, Turkey and Ukraine to discuss coach education.