Airtel-Uganda has unveiled that sixty (60) districts are set to host the 2019 Airtel Rising Stars (ARS) tournament at the regional qualifier level as the tournament gets closer to the local communities for all football lovers to support their local players taking part.
This was revealed on Wednesday at Pece stadium, Gulu as Airtel-Uganda officially launched the eighth (8th) season of the tournament that intends to tap young talent at grass root level.
Unlike previous editions where launching was done in one place, there were 14 different launches held Airtel-Uganda shops country-wide including Kampala, Jinja, Luwero, Soroti, Lira, Masindi, Arua, Iganga, Hoima, Mbarara, Ntungamo and Masaka.
Since 2011, ARS has given schooling and non-schooling talented, boys and girls between13-17 years old an opportunity to compete with hopes of being scouted to join top local and international clubs as well as the national team.
Currently, the tournament boasts of products such as Farouk Miya (HNK Gorica, Croatia & Uganda Cranes), Kezron Kizito; (Kerala Blasters India & Uganda Cranes), Allan Okello (KCCA & Uganda under 23), Shaban Mohammad (Raja Casablanca, Morocco), Martin Kiiza (Free State Stars South Africa & Uganda Cranes) and Fazila Ikwaput (Biik Kazygurt Kazakhstan & Uganda Crested Cranes).
According to Mr. V.G. Somasekhar, the Airtel-Uganda Managing Director, Airtel-Uganda has always been, and remains committed to the development of Uganda’s football talent at all levels.
“Since the inception of this youth grassroots tournament, we have deliberately invested more and more in the development of football talent across Uganda. Today, our sponsorships vary from youth to local leagues, cultural tournaments such as Masaza Cup and finally to the national team the Uganda Cranes,” he noted.
The function was presided over by Hajj Zubairi Galiwanga the, NCS Vice chairman technical as the guest of honour while George Labeja, the Gulu municipal mayor and Justus Mugisha, the Fufa 1st Vice president were also in attendance.
As part of this year’s tournament, Airtel will handover goal posts, soccer nets and balls to 40 schools countrywide as a way of keeping the football talent alive even after the tournament.
Furthermore, national and regional winners will enjoy an increase in their cash prizes this year. National winners will get Shs7m from Shs5m last year while national runners up will get Shs5m from Shs3m. Regional winners will get Shs1.5m up from Shs1m and runners up will get Shs1m up from Shs500000. Other prizes include certificates for all, medals, trophies, golden boot for MVP, phones and various other ARS merchandise.
Ggaliwango commended Airtel for always supporting local communities across Uganda, not only through their reliable telecommunications services, but also with community engagement activities such as the Airtel Rising Stars tournament.
“Uganda has one of the largest youth populations in the world. Without proper engagement and guidance, these youth can easily become an issue for the country. It is for this reason that I applaud Airtel Uganda for instilling the values of discipline, team work and hard work in these youth through this football tournament,” he commented.
The 2019 tournament will see 94 games played at inter-district level, from which 8 boys and 8 girls’ teams will be chosen to advance to the national finals scheduled for September 7 at the StarTimes stadium, Lugogo in Kampala Region.
Last year, Kampala Region edged Buganda to win the 2018 boys national championship while Kitara defeated Western to win the 2018 girls’ title.