Once the fifth FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, to take place in three cities across Jordan, kicks off on Friday 30 September, local football followers will have the chance to revel in what is a truly exceptional event. The thrill of the occasion will be heightened by the fact that this is the first time that the Hashemite Kingdom, and indeed the Middle East, is staging a FIFA women's competition.
The ceremony got underway with some introductory remarks, after which the mayor took to the stage and highlighted both the importance of the event and the role played by the local authorities: "We stand here today in the Fan Zone, one of the places where Jordanians will be able to gather to follow the games and make the most of the World Cup. During the preparations over the last few years, the Amman Municipal Board has built and developed sporting facilities and the urban infrastructure, always with a common goal in mind: to welcome visitors to our beautiful city in an exemplary manner."
FIFA representative Anastasia Tsichlas voiced her delight regarding the opening of the Fan Zone: "This is going to enable numerous Jordanians to get closer to football and to see the impact that this sport can have across the world. The atmosphere is going to be magical. I'm sure that this World Cup is going to inspire young girls here and encourage them to play the sport. We've got to savour all the wonderful moments that this unique competition will bring."
Also in attendance were the Lebanese pop star Carole Samaha, the voice behind the competition's Official Song (entitled 'Jordan our Playground'), and the Jordanian singer Hussein Al Salman. Al Salman delighted the crowd by taking to the stage and launching into a rendition of part of this anthem, while Samaha later spoke to FIFA.com - to be published tomorrow - in which she expressed her joy at having been chosen for the song and enthused about her upcoming performance at the tournament's Opening Ceremony.
Fun and games
The Fan Zone will be open every day from 18.00 to 22.00 local time and will be showing matches on a giant screen and several other monitors dotted around the venue. Visitors will therefore be able to come together and enjoy supporting Jordan and their other favourite teams in a relaxed, friendly setting.
The Fan Zone will also be offering a number of games courtesy of local partners and sponsors. For example, supporters will have the chance to showcase their ball skills and to interact with the tournament's Official Mascot, Aseela the Arabian Oryx. Similarly, a range of local singers will be providing further entertainment, while visitors will also be able to purchase souvenirs to remember their time at the tournament, which will conclude on 21 October.
The CEO of the Local Organising Committee, Samar Nassar, summed up what will be on offer: "A few hours before the beginning of the biggest ever competition hosted by the country and region, the Fan Zone will allow whole families to experience all the excitement of the event beyond the stadiums. They will also be able to take part in activities for the young and old alike."