Coach Afranie (r) and Ibrahim Sunday pose with the some of the teams
Former Black Stars trainer, Nana Emmanuel Kwasi Afranie, has described Airtel Rising Stars as the most important football competition in Ghana after attending the first Zonal competition in Ho over the weekend.
Four boys and three girls’ teams representing Greater Accra, Eastern and Volta regions converged on the Volta capital of Ho over a two day period to compete for honours. The biggest prize at stake however was getting a place on the Airtel Rising Stars team, which would represent the zone at the national finals in Sunyani in July.
Greater Accra proved too strong for Volta Region in both the boy’s finals competition and the girls’ gold medal match. Eastern Region finished bottom of the pile in both categories.
Coach Nana Akwasi Afranie who won Ghana’s first World U-17 trophy in 1991 and guided the Black Satellites to a runners-up place at the World Youth Championship in 2001 observed that Ghana’s best hope for her football future laid with Airtel Rising Stars.
‘This country is full of talent. Look at the players we have found here. The standard of the competition has been healthy and remember this is only the second screening exercise. After here, we will meet all the zonal champions in Sunyani where we will select the national team.
‘And then they will move to camp. After one week of camping, we will select the final Airtel Rising Stars team which will represent the country at the Airtel Rising Stars African championship to be held in Gabon in August. I can say without fear or favour that some of the players we have seen here today will make it into the national team of Ghana,’ Coach Afranie said.
Though Eastern Region performed poorly, several of their young players were picked by the technical committee of the Ghana Football Association’s juvenile committee. However, the lion’s share of the Airtel Rising Stars Zonal team of 22 boys and 14 girls was taken up by Accra.
The Ho edition of the Airtel Rising Stars zonal games was full of fun as hip-life artiste and dance maestro, Gasmilla together with the official Airtel Rising Stars mascot entertained both players and spectators with Azonto lectures.
The Volta Regional Minister, Helen Ntoso spoke highly of Airtel’s initiative to touch lives and change destinies of Ghana’s future football talent.
The Chairman of the Volta Regional Football Association, Francis Dogbatse, tasked the zonal team to ensure that they make the national team through hard work.
The next edition of the Airtel Rising Stars zonal games would be held in Tamale from June 14to 15.
The best regional boys and girls team in Upper East, Upper West and the Northern regions would play their games in Tamale. Before the weekend however, a scouting exercise aimed to identify talent outside the regional teams would be held at the Tamale Sports Stadium on Thursday 12- 13.
From The Sports Desk
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