Former Manchester United’s player Quinton Fortune launched the second edition of the Airtel Rising Stars football talent scouting in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
The newly appointed Minister for Communication, Science and Technology Makame Mbawala was the guest of honour during the event.
Also in attendance were Tanzania Football federation officials, Airtel managing director Sam Elangalloor and other officials in the marketing department.
The launching comes after hugely successful first season last year when some youngsters benefited from the football promotion initiative.
The ARS season is kicks off on May 25 when young football players will engage in the competition throughout the country.
Airtel has embarked in massive talent scouting and nurturing in close cooperation with the TFF and this time the programme has included young girls aspiring to become football stars.
The New season will introduce a first-ever inter-country tournament for select teams to be held in Nairobi.
Up to six aspiring stars from Tanzania - three boys and as many girls will be lined-up to attend a coaching clinic under the Manchester United Soccer Schools program.
The second season of the program – which follows a hugely successful inaugural year, provides a platform for upcoming soccer talent under the age of seventeen to showcase their skills to lead scouts and coaches, giving them an opportunity to improve further their football skills.
“Last year’s extremely successful tournament is testament to the fact that football has a unique ability to connect and empower communities, as well as to create a positive community impact from the grassroots to a national level.
Last year, more than 11,000 teams registered for the tournament followed by an elimination process to select the teams that participated in the regional tournaments. This great turnout made it clear to us that we were on the right track with this tournament, which is why we are so eager for it to kick off this year”, said Elangalloor.
This year’s program will be organised in the format of regional and national tournaments, and culminate in an exclusive football camp under the tutelage of the Manchester United Soccer Schools coaching staff.
However, this edition will also include an exciting new inter-country tournament to be held in Nairobi, after the national tournaments.
The inter-country tournament will be held over a period of four days and will see the top girls and boys teams from each participating country compete against each other for the title of ARS African champion.
“We have decided to include the inter-country tournament this year to enable youth in our markets to interact with each other, both culturally and through their passion for the sport using a common platform. We believe that this will have a long-term positive impact on the players and on their game”, said Elangalloor.
The pan-African football tournament, which will span 16 Airtel markets across the continent, is supported by one of the world’s leading soccer teams, Manchester United.
The initiative targets boys and girls across the country and provides a structured platform for scouts, coaches, football authorities and other partners to tap into a vast pool of upcoming talent.
The hard-tackling midfielder, Fortune who launched the event yesterday, arrived at United from Atletico Madrid in 1999 as Sir Alex Ferguson sought to bolster his treble winning squad.
The South African player quickly displayed a versatility and strength of character which made him an able performer at left-back and in central midfield as well as an attacking wide man. He holds two Manchester United honours for the FA community shield (2003) and Intercontinental Cup (1999) and is currently an ambassador of the Club.
The partnership with Manchester United is part of a four-year sponsorship and mobile content agreement signed in December 2010 that allows select Airtel operations to tap into the football club’s deep reservoir of technical resources and sports marketing expertise.
Speaking about their support of the ARS programme, United’s commercial director, Richard Arnold said; “We are very pleased by the success of last year’s programme and will continue to throw our full support behind ARS.
Last year, we had the pleasure to work closely with a number of extremely talented players from the different markets across Africa, and I have no doubt that we will see equally talented individuals make it through to the clinic stage this time around. It is a great opportunity for us to work with these talented players in order to coach them how to play the united way.”
The ARS registration will kick-off on May 14 and is expected to draw 24 teams from six regions. The registration forms will be available at Airtel offices in Lindi, Mbeya, Arusha, Kinondoni, Ilala and Temeke.