Dwight Yorke launches Airtel Rising Stars tournament
Ex-Manchester United legendary striker, Dwight Yorke has officially launched the Airtel Rising Stars tournament in Sierra Leone on Wednesday May 16 at the Presidential lounge of the National Stadium in Freetown.
Speaking at the ceremony, Yorke said he came to Sierra Leone as an ambassador for Manchester United and the Airtel Telecommunications Company. Yorke calls the showdown a unique opportunity platform for the future of youth football in the country as he told football stakeholders to work hand in glove to ensure that football grows in Sierra Leone. He said he was proud and grateful as an ex-Manchester United player to take part in the launching of the Airtel Rising Stars in Sierra Leone.
The Airtel Rising Stars tournament came as a result of a partnership between one of the world’ most successful football clubs in Europe, Manchester United and the mobile network provider, Airtel to ensure that soccer talents in Africa rise to the pick of international superstars.
Speaking during the epoch-making event, Airtel’s Managing Director, RVS Bhullah said the successes marked in the inaugural session of the Airtel Rising Stars tournament was testament to the fact that football has a unique ability to connect and empower communities to create a positive impact on football stars from the grassroots level to the National level.
He disclosed that more than 11,000 teams registered for the first session of the tournament across the country which was followed by an elimination process to select the teams that participated in the four regions of the country.
Bhullar maintained that 186 teams registered to participate out of which they shortlisted 96 teams comprising 73 boys and 23 girls. Out of these talented players, he said 2 boys and 2 girls were chosen from Sierra Leone to attend a professionally run football clinic in Manchester’s football clinic in Tanzania.
Bhullah also said that the Airtel Rising Stars tourney is designed to provide a structured platform for coaches, football scouts, authorities, other partners and supporters.
Brands and Communication Manager, Mustapha Katta said with the Airtel Rising Star tourney in the country, youth football is sure to be developed. He said their partnership with Manchester United is one that makes the tournament bigger this time.
He said this year’s tourney is made rigid to ensure that candidates of the right age are selected as 60 boys’ teams and 40 girls’ teams are in the shortlist schedule for the year’s tournament. The winning team will be representing Sierra Leone in Kenya joining the 16 countries in the shortlist that are to compete in a four days international tournament. Katta said Kenya will be hosting this completion as they have fulfilled the CAF and FIFA standards set for the host country.
The Acting Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) Mr. Abdul Rahman Swarray said the FA is happy that Airtel has started promoting youth football in the country. Swarray applauded efforts of ex-Leone Stars skipper, Mohamed Kallon who he said was the very first to have started the initiative of promoting youth football in the country. He thanked Airtel for providing them Sierra Leone a good female football team in the last football season.
Making his official statement, the Minister of Youths and Sports, Hon. Paul Kamara said with the existence of the National Youth Commission in the country working alongside the Ministry of Youth and Sports, a wonderful moment awaits sports in Sierra Leone.
Paul Kamara said Sierra Leone has also succeeded to be in the ranks of the fastest movers in Africa and world football overhauling fellow African countries a shift drip he called ‘significant move’. He said Airtel Rising Stars are a new innovation that would help to build football talents for the country’s Under 17 team.
As part of their corporate social responsibilities Airtel on Wednesday May 16th visited the Milton Margai School for the blind to donate provisions aimed at up keeping them.
Students, teachers and the Headmaster, Mr. Albert Sandy came out to welcome the Airtel family, Manchester legend Dwight Yorke and Leone Stars super star Mohamed Kallon.
The school was founded in May 1956 and it has trained lots of children some of whom are in the various universities of Sierra Leone. Airtel is very instrumental in helping the blind in Sierra Leone. Mr. Sandy said the school’s choir has put the school and Sierra Leone on a map as it has showcased in musical concerts in London and other parts of the world advertising the country’s socio economic transformation. Proprietor ended by saying that “with Airtel around us we shall conquer”.
Manchester United Legend Dwight Yorke said he was very impressed to see the blind pupils perform with their skills. Much more will be done in the future for the blind, Dwight told the school. He also said he will never forget his visit to The National School for the Blind in Sierra Leone while presenting the items to the school authorities.
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