The championship is the culmination of regional and national tournaments in 15 countries in the African continent. The Championship is part of the Airtel Rising Stars program, a soccer talent initiative that is focused on identifying and nurturing soccer talent from the grassroots onto a national stage.
Touted as the biggest tournament in the continent the championships attracted approximately 18,000 youth teams and 324,000 youth players in the 15 countries. In addition to galvanising the biggest turnout during the qualification stage, the program has also broken new ground by introducing girls to a pan African tournament.
The Airtel Africa Championship was officially opened by Kenya’s Prime Minister, The Rt.Hon. Raila Odinga accompanied by the tourney sponsors – Airtel Africa – led by Manoj Kohli the CEO (International) & Joint MD, Bharti Airtel.
The Soccer Championships will herald the unveiling of two specialised Airtel Rising Soccer Clinics run by soccer coaches from the Manchester United and Arsenal Soccer Schools. Present at the Championships launch were officials from both clubs namely; Mr. Jonathan Rigby, Marketing Director, Manchester United and Angus Kinnear, Marketing Director, Arsenal Football Club. The two clinics will be attended by two of the club’s legends Peter Schmeichel and Ray Parlour.
In the opening fixtures, the hosts Kenyan whitewashed Malawi in the Girls tournament opener 11-0 with Vivian Adhiambo scoring 5 goals in the rout. In the Boy’s opener, Malawi beat Kenya 5-1 to lead Group B. The other teams in the group are Madagascar and Ghana.
The Countries that have rolled out the Airtel Rising Stars include Burkina Faso, Chad, Republic of Congo (Congo Brazzaville), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, Nigeria, Niger, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia
Airtel has two territorial partnership agreements with Arsenal and Manchester United Football Clubs. The two agreements bestow several rights to Airtel as the telecommunication partner in the selected markets. Key amongst the rights is the technical expertise provided by the two clubs at the Airtel Rising Stars soccer clinics. The clinics are run by respective club’s soccer schools program.
Distributed by the African Press Organization on behalf of Bharti Airtel Limited.