Second season of Airtel Rising Stars football talent search kicks off in Sierra Leone
·After hugely successful first season, Airtel Sierra Leone and Manchester United legend Dwight Yorke will launch the second season of Africa’s largest youth football initiative – Airtel Rising Stars – to kick off in May
··Airtel to work with Sierra Leone Football Association, Youth Employment and Sports and National Youth Commission to identify and nurture aspiring football stars
· New season will introduce a first-ever inter-country tournament for select teams to be held in Nairobi
· Up to five aspiring stars from Sierra Leone to attend a coaching clinic under the Manchester United Soccer Schools program
Freetown, Sierra Leone, May 16th 2012 Ai1rtel Sierra Leone today announced the details of the second round of Africa’s largest youth football initiative – the Airtel Rising Stars soccer talent programme that aims to focus on identifying and nurturing budding soccer talent from the grassroots onto a national stage. The second season of the program – which follows a hugely successful inaugural year –provides a platform for upcoming soccer talent under the age of seventeen to showcase their skills to leading scouts and coaches, giving them an opportunity to further their football skills.
Speaking at the launch of the program Airtel Sierra Leone Managing Director, Mr. RVS Bhullar said: “Last year’s extremely successful tournament is testament to the fact that football has a unique ability to connect and empower communities, as well as to create a positive community impact from the grassroots to a national level. Last year, more than 11,000 teams registered for the tournament followed by an elimination process to select the teams that participated in the regionals. This great turnout made it clear to us that we were on the right track with this tournament, which is why we are so eager for it to kick off this year.”
Similar to last year, the program will be organized in the format of regional and national tournaments, and will culminate in an exclusive football camp under the tutelage of the Manchester United Soccer Schools coaching staff. However, this year will also include an exciting new inter-country tournament to be held in Nairobi, following the national tournaments. The inter-country tournament will be held over a period of four days and will see the top girls and boys teams from each participating country compete against each other for the title of Airtel Rising Stars African Champion.
Mr. Bhullar adds: “We decided to include the inter-country tournament this year to enable the youth in our markets to connect with each other – both culturally and through their passion for the sport – using a common platform. We believe that this will have a long-term positive impact on the players and on their game.”
The pan-African football tournament, which will span 16 Airtel markets across the continent, is supported by one of the world’s leading soccer teams, Manchester United. It is designed to provide a platform for upcoming soccer talent under the age of seventeen to showcase their skills to leading scouts, coaches and have an opportunity to further their football skills. The initiative targets boys and girls across the country and provides a structured platform for scouts, coaches, football authorities and other partners to tap into a vast pool of upcoming talent.
This year, the launch event was officiated by Manchester United Legend Dwight Yorke. During his five year stint with the club, Yorke scored 64 goals, earning himself the nick name ‘the smiling assassin’ – the result of his goal scoring abilities and his constant smile. He can often be seen around Man Utd’s Carrington training ground where he works closely with the Manchester United reserve team.
The partnership with Manchester United is part of a four year sponsorship and mobile content agreement signed in December 2010 that allows select Airtel operations to tap into the football club’s deep reservoir of technical resources and sports marketing expertise.
Speaking about their support of the Airtel Rising Stars programme, Manchester United’s Commercial Director, Richard Arnold said; “We are very pleased by the success of last year’s programme and we will continue to throw our full support behind Airtel Rising Stars.
Last year, we had the pleasure to work closely with a number of extremely talented players from the different markets across Africa, and I have no doubt that we will see equally talented individuals make it through to the clinic stage this time around. It is a great opportunity for us to work with these talented players in order to coach them how to play the Manchester United way.”
The Airtel Rising Stars registration will kick-off on 13th June 2012 and is expected to draw 100 teams. The registration forms will be available from Medium Hypes office and all Airtel shops nation wide.
For more information, check out our website (www.airtel-football.com) or our mobile site (www.airtel-football.mobi). Please also take the time to like our facebook page (facebook.com/airtelfootball).