Over the weekend, Kigali was treated to a rare touch of talent when sixteen teams competed in the Airtel Rising Stars tournament in the Central region. Comprised of twelve boy’s teams and four girls’ teams the games were played at different stadiums in Kigali with the finals being held at Federation Rwandese de Football Association (FERWAFA) football ground.
The competitions took place on Sunday 12th of June with a Miroplast (boys) and Young for Hope (girls) emerging as the regions champions. The two teams were declared champions in both the boys’ and girls’ categories respectively. In Kigali after Miroplast defeated Shining to take home the boys’ gold trophy and cash prize of Rwf 100,000 while Young for Hope (Gasabo) defeated St. Family (Nyarugenge) to emerge as the female champions and also got Rwf 100,000. The first runners up were awarded Rwf 80, 000 and Rwf 70,000.
All the eight teams have now already embarked on the uphill task of preparing for the national finals that will be held in Musanze on the 18th to 19th July. Airtel Rising Stars national finals will take place in Musanze where the regional winners will battle out for the bragging rights of being the champions of the country.
The Airtel Rising Stars initiative, the biggest Under-17 grassroots tournament on the African continent, aims at identifying talent and nurturing upcoming footballers. This is one of the few football equal opportunity initiatives that targets boys and girls. Over the years, the Airtel Rising Stars initiative has yielded many success stories and has enabled several upcoming soccer talents to join Africa Premier League clubs and their countries’ national teams.
The selected players get an opportunity to get the best-in-class sports training, during residential clinics that have over the years, been held by some of Arsenal FC’s legends. Airtel has played a major role in the nurturing of remarkable talents and in Rwanda there is an abundance of talent that is waiting to be nurtured.
Speaking at the games, Airtel Rwanda Brands and Communication manager, Clementine Nyampinga, said; “Airtel is dedicated to nurture young talent through the Under 17 grassroots football initiative that enables us to reach out to the youth. It is our desire to see young people live their dream and soccer is one of our major platforms in doing so .This soccer tournament provides this opportunity to the youngsters and creates a great opportunity for the players to engage more in the game.”
Airtel, currently the largest supporter of youth football on the continent, has partnered with FERWAFA to ensure that football regulations are followed.