The Airtel Rising Stars (ARS) Season Three Initiative is back, bigger and better with support from one of the leading global clubs, Manchester United.
At least 300 schools across Malawi are participating and Airtel is working hand in hand with the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) through Malawi Schools Sports Association (Massa) as well as ministries of Education and Sports to spot and cultivate raw football talent.
According to Airtel Malawi, regional exploits of the tournament would culminate in national finals scheduled for mid next month where two teams (one for boys and the other for girls) will be selected to travel to Nigeria in September for the African Championship.
Thereafter, four outstanding youngsters from Malawi (two boys and two girls) will attend a Manchester United Soccer Clinic in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Airtel Malawi managing director Saulos Chilima said ARS and the Bola Kunthazi Promotion create positive community impacts from the grass roots.
“Football has the ability to connect and empower communities through the passion it elicits from fans and the ability of players to learn and earn a living from the sport.
“The ARS programme is designed to help football authorities and other partners to tap into a vast pool of upcoming talent and build strong soccer talent feeder systems for our league and national teams,” said Chilima.
Samsung Electronics Africa vice-president and chief operating officer George Ferreira said Samsung was focusing on forging a partnership with Airtel in Africa to reach out to consumers across sub-Saharan region.
ARS is an Africa-wide programme that provides a platform for upcoming soccer talent under the age of 17 to showcase their skills to leading scouts and coaches and have an opportunity to further their football skills. The initiative targets both boys and girls across the continent.
During last year’s season, Malawi was represented by Joyce Banda Foundation (boys) and Namalimwe CDSS (girls) in the African Championships in Nairobi, Kenya, which was contested by teams in all countries where Airtel operates.