Those children – who will be chosen by the AFFA, an organisation that strives to involve girls in football – will escort the two teams out onto the pitch at the Baku Olympic Stadium on 29 May.
“We’ve worked closely with the UEFA Foundation for Children to shape a long-term collaboration that maximises possibilities for young people through football. As sponsor of the UEFA Europa League, we are delighted to be able to extend support for the work of the Foundation, and of AFFA, by helping to make an all-girl player mascot group a possibility in Baku,” said Brenda McWilliams-Piatek, vice president, Marketing Operations, FedEx Express Europe.
The AFFA is currently working with 35 schools, running football activities for children three times a week. The association’s grassroots department has also established several initiatives aimed specifically at girls. Coaches from the country’s national women’s league are encouraged to get involved in youth programmes, and free courses are run three times a year to train additional coaches for children’s football.
“Football offers many opportunities in terms of social integration and well-being, benefiting both boys and girls alike. For many of the girls who are enrolled in our programmes, playing football helps to break down barriers by fostering inclusion and equality. Having these young girls act as player mascots at the UEFA Europa League final will make them visible on an international stage, and I think the sense of pride will be almost palpable,” said Elkhan Mammadov, general secretary of the AFFA and board member of UEFA Foundation for Children
“Together with FedEx Express, we have delivered multiple projects that – under the umbrella of children’s rights – use football as a powerful tool to improve the lives of children. By donating player mascot places to organisations such as the AFFA, we are offering them a platform on which to showcase the tremendous headway they are making in involving young girls in football in Azerbaijan,” said Urs Kluser, general secretary of the UEFA Foundation for Children.
Since becoming a sponsor of the UEFA Europa League in 2015, FedEx Express has consistently worked with the UEFA Foundation for Children to donate player mascot places to youth organisations in cities hosting the final of the competition.