The Country’s leading GSM operator, Airtel-Sierra Leone, on Tuesday 13 May 2014 launched its fourth season of Africa’s largest youth football initiative ‘Airtel Rising Stars’ with the mission to take football to all the 149 chiefdoms in the country.
In his statement during a well-attended ceremony chaired by Airtel’s June-Rose Johnson at the company headquarter situated at IMATT, the Managing Director of the company, Sudipto Chowdhury said the previous seasons were extremely successful and are testimonies to the fact that football has a unique ability to connect and empower communities, as well as create a positive community impact from the grass-root to a national level.
He further stated that four keys strategies will be engaged this year, which include Massification, Inclusion, Sustainability and Celebration.
“Massification- this highlights the expansion of the tournament where we plan to take ARS to all 149 chiefdoms. We aim to register 1000 teams, from 600 teams last year. And we will cater for 100 teams to participate with 50 of previous year. We will adopt the Amputee footballs teams and run a football gala in parallel with ARS. Additionally, we will have exhibition matches and a partnership with SWASAL will ensure that we have professional coverage of the events.
“Sustainability of the game is to ensure that we keep ARS alive at all times. We are committed to providing training and coaching sessions for 20 ARS kids at the Mohamed Kallon Football Academy”, he stressed.
He added, “Celebration- this will celebrate and recognize outstanding performers of ARS from season-1 by unveiling a ‘Wall of Fame’. We will launch ‘Report and Win’ promo for sports journalists and launch ARS health run”, he maintained.
However, the ARS registration will kick-off on 20th -30th May 2014 and is expected to draw over 1000 teams. The registration forms will be available at all Airtel offices nationwide.
The President of SWASAL, Mohamed Fajar Barrie expressed thanks and appreciation to Airtel for having included his association as one of its key partners. He promised to give extensive coverage during the competition.
He mentioned that football cannot develop without taking it to the grass root. He said “that is what Airtel has done and should be taken very seriously “.
Mohamed Freeman, who represented the Western Area Football Referee Association (WAFRA) said that they are very pleased for the opportunity exposed to them as most of their young referees over the past years have participated in the ARS competition which they are proud of. He assured that this time around, they are going to do their best to have a very good officiating session.
The Single-Leg Amputee representative, Mohamed Lappia said they are happy with their inclusion in the ARS season-four competition. He thanked airtel for their contribution towards their trip to Kenya.
Hassan J. Kanu, a past ARS star said, ARS competition has done well in his life as he is a beneficiary of a trip to Nigeria Tanzanian, and that now through the competition, he is able to play for FC Kallon.
Sierra Leone Football Icon, former Inter-Milan and AS Monaco star, Mohamed Kallon who is the ARS Brand Ambassador before performing the official launching ceremony said “ I believe in the grass root. That is why five players from ARS joined FC Kallon last year and that this year, 10 players who will play the competition will also join FC Kallon”. He added that he had 3 players in Shooting Stars that are all grassroot players, which lays credence to the importance of the competition.
By Bernard Turay
Thursday May 15, 2014