Monday 19 June 2023, 17:45

Armenia’s mini-pitches win inaugural award for FIFA Forward projects

  • Awards introduced to recognise the best FIFA Forward Programme projects

  • Armenia built 89 mini football-pitches in 8 regions between 2019 and 2021

  • Pitches have a social impact and increase interest in football among girls

Good-quality pitches are absolutely fundamental when it comes to developing football, yet in many parts of the world they can be difficult to find. Armenia has addressed the issue by building dozens of mini-pitches in eight regions of the country, with FIFA’s support, as part of its efforts to develop grassroots football. Looking to provide better access to good quality pitches for both children and adults, the Armenian Football Association (FFA) identified 89 communities where infrastructure was lacking and, over the course of a three-year period from 2019 to 2021, built a 40m x 20m mini-pitch in each one of them. The FIFA Forward Development Programme provided USD 2.75 million in funding with the remainder of USD 965,000 coming from the FFA.

This tremendous achievement is a striking example of how FIFA Forward funds can be used to benefit football development in a country – and has been selected as the winner of the first-ever FIFA Forward awards, introduced to recognise the best projects completed under FIFA’s flagship development programme. “It’s a well-known fact, that the grassroots football development is the base of overall football development,” said FFA President Armen Melikbekyan, adding it was a “great honour” to receive the award. “It is of a huge importance for us to create opportunities for children, particularly, in the regions of Armenia, because the number of infrastructures in the regions is relatively less than in the capital. The construction of 89 mini-pitches will obviously enlarge the youth football family by involving more and more players and youth teams and as a result making the existing youth national competitions stronger and better organized.”

FIFA Forward Awards - Armenia

“The pitches have had a huge impact on the social life of the regions of Armenia, by enforcing the right for every child to play, teaching how to face a challenge, building the character and instilling discipline that will help them further in life. The format of mini pitches is attractive for youngsters and helps to engage hundreds of young people into the game on a regular basis.“ Congratulating the FFA, Elkhan Mammadov, FIFA Director of Member Associations Europe, said. “The emphasis placed on the community aspect is showcasing the transformative power of the project. As FIFA, we are pleased to witness such dedication towards football development throughout the entire country by constructing 89 mini pitches. Such initiatives always become a milestone for the federation and impact positively to the communities and grassroot football."

FIFA Forward Awards - Armenia

The initial awards, which attracted entries from 21 member associations, were open to the 55 European member associations and focused on infrastructure projects. FIFA funds can also be used to organise competitions and cover operating costs, depending on the needs of the member association. "We are happy to give this prize to the Football Federation of Armenia as recognition for this beautiful project that came to fruition with the support of the FIFA Forward program. Our main objective is to support all FIFA member associations to develop football in their countries, to make it truly global and to ensure that the impact is guaranteed over the long term," said Kenny-Jean Marie, FIFA Chief Member Associations Officer.

FIFA Forward Awards - Armenia

FIFA Forward, which offers funding to each of the 211 member associations, is at the heart of FIFA’s drive to develop football around the world and hundreds of projects have been completed in its seven years of existence. The Andorran Football Association (FAF) was second in the awards for La Massana Sporting facility which will serve as a national training centre for the country while the bronze medal went to the Moldovan Football Association (FMF) for the Multi-Purpose Beach Soccer stadium named La Izvor.

Discover more

Find out about FIFA Forward's background and proposition.

The core principles

Find out more about the FIFA Forward core principles.

Programme history

Explore the history of the FIFA Forward Programme since the first edition in 2016.