A total of 1750 teams will battle out in the 6th season of the Airtel Rising Stars (ARS) as Airtel Malawi pegs sponsorship for the under 17 girls and boys football tournament at MK79.3 million.
Speaking at the launch of the new season in Luchenza on Saturday, Airtel’s Marketing Director Emmanuel Kasambara said Airtel is impressed with the progress and results that the initiative has registered so far. Kasambara made a special tribute to the youth of Malawi for making the Airtel Rising Stars a unique and successful tournament.
“It is through your passion for football that Airtel Rising Stars draws its strength. It is because of the country’s young talents and commitment that Airtel Rising Stars continues to remain a relevant property”
He described the initiative a “significant milestone in the development of Airtel as a champion of sports development”.
Malawi School Sports Association (MASSA) announced that 1, 750 teams have registered to participate in this year’s ARS tournament. Of the total, 850 teams are for young girls.
Government has since applauded Airtel for bouncing back with the ARS initiative. According to the ministry of sports, ARS has a great reputation as it has no record of violence and hooliganism.
Minister of Sports Grace Chiumia further said for the past five years, ARS had been very instrumental in unearthing raw talent in boys’ and girls’ football highlighting that it was through this tournament that the junior national team for the Flames and the women’s football national team drew its muscle, prowess and resources.
“This is the biggest under 17 tournament on the land. This underlines the fact that sport has a tremendous role to play not just in strengthening national unity and social cohesion and in building healthy people but in addressing our developmental challenges,” said Chiumia at the launch.
Unlike the previous years, this year, divisions will participate in the finals instead of individual schools as has been the trend. And the prize for the national finalists will partly be invested in social responsibility projects. The winning team will pocket K2 million. 2nd and 3rd placed teams will walk away with K1.5 million and K1.2 million respectively.
ARS was unveiled in 2011, and for the past five years has amassed the exposure of talent from its cohorts to feature in the Junior Malawi National Football Team, under 17 domestic leagues as well as the Women’s Football National Team.