Season three of Airtel Rising Stars (ARS) national U-17 football tournament for boys and girls organized annually by leading telecommunications operator, Airtel Nigeria, officially kicked off Tuesday in Lagos.
The official launch of the grassroots tournament, an initiative of Airtel Africa, marked the commencement of Season 3 of the tournament which aims to develop grassroots football by discovering talented youngsters and providing them the opportunity to evolve and acquire new football skills and develop into notable soccer talents.
The tournament also builds capacity for sports officials while offering quality entertainment, excitement and fun to millions of soccer loving fans across the nation, especially the youth.
In his opening remarks at the event in Lagos, Segun Ogunsanya, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Nigeria, said the ARS platform in the past two seasons had led to the discovery and nurturing of young stars, some of whom have commenced their professional careers in football.
Ogunsanya observed since Nigerians are passionate about football Airtel is committed to building and sustaining a rich pool of talents that would serve as ready materials for the country’s national teams.
“We are indeed happy that in just two years of its existence, Airtel Rising Stars has played a major role in the nurturing of remarkable talents. Adamu Abubakar, a goal keeper in the current national U-17 team that recently won Silver in Morocco is a product of ARS season one. Muritala Lawal, who emerged the MVP in that season, recently returned from trials at Manchester United. We are therefore, proud to say that the Airtel Rising Stars initiative is gradually establishing itself as a strong feeder program for the national teams”, the CEO noted.
This season, Airtel has expanded the scope of ARS by partnering with Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. to deliver a most rewarding and exciting season.
Also, the company has introduced “Goal for Education” – a monetized incentive for every goal scored at the National finals for both the male and female teams.
George Ferreira, Vice President and COO of Samsung Electronics, Africa says: “Our youth have the potential to be a great impetus for Africa’s development, provided that an appropriate investment in human capital is made. This multi-million dollar partnership will help spotlight Africa’s potential, and we are proud to be associated with such development.”
Similar to last year, top teams from 17 African countries will compete against each other for the title of Airtel Rising Stars African Champion, scheduled for Nigeria.
The soccer talent program will end in an exclusive football camp for select top talents who would emerge from the respective countries under the tutelage of professional coaching staff from Arsenal FC and Manchester United, who will provide coaching clinics for the scouted talents under the Airtel Rising Stars platform.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Nigeria, Segun Ogunsanya, supported most notably by ex-international football stars, coaches and other top personalities from YSFON and NSSF, flagged off the Season three ARS initiative in Lagos.