Posted by News Express | 9 September 2013 | 2,911 times
Nigeria’s Minister for Sports, Bolaji Abdullahi, and his counterpart in Women Affairs, Hajia Zainab Maina, will lead a host of top government officials and international diplomats to the opening ceremony of the Airtel Rising Stars Africa Championship taking place in Lagos, from September 16 – 22.
The Airtel Rising Stars Africa Football Championship in its second season is Africa’s biggest Under-17 grassroots tournament and the only one with strong consideration for gender equality with the incorporation of the Girls Category. Teams from 16 countries across Africa will participate in the championship.
Airtel Nigeria’s CEO, Segun Ogunsanya, has assured that the company is ready to host the youngsters from across Africa as well as the dignitaries, including the members of the diplomatic corps, who will be coming to support the representatives of their various countries.
Ogunsanya expressed delight at the federal government’s support towards the successful hosting of the biggest youth soccer fiesta in Africa by any corporate organisation.
He said in a statement that “Airtel believes in the potentials that are inherent in every African youth not only in the area of football, but across the various skill sets of human endeavours, hence Airtel’s commitment to being a major enabler for them to meet their dreams and aspirations.”
News Express learnt that each participating country’s contingent emerged after a rigorous selection process coordinated by seasoned soccer coaches and ex-internationals during their respective national championships.
For the Nigerian representatives, the male and female teams, incidentally both from Port Harcourt, were selected from a pool of over 40,000 young stars after a gruelling display of soccer skills, discipline and commitment that saw them scale through the zonal stages to the national championship finals.
As part of the activities lined up for the soccer fiesta, Airtel will host the visiting teams including local and international media, national and youth Soccer federations to a corporate dinner, and will also use the opportunity to conduct the match draws and fixtures for the one week tournament.
The winning male and female teams from the competition will receive the grand prize of USD 10,000 for the education of the players.
The opening and the final games of ARS Africa Championship would hold at the Ikeja Township Stadium in Agege, Lagos. Soccer enthusiasts would also have the opportunity of watching scintillating skills from the youngsters at the Onikan Stadium, Yaba College of Technology and the Legacy Pitch of the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, where the group matches would hold.
The Airtel Rising Stars U-17 soccer tournament is a unique pan-African initiative of Airtel Africa designed to create a pool of talents to feed the national soccer teams of African countries.
It also seeks to discover male and female soccer talents and effectively nurture and guide them into finding fulfillment in carving out a career path in football.
•Photo shows action from the qualifiers.
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