The Ghana Football Association partnered Airtel Rising Stars talent identification football programme kicks off again in June as Ghana go in search of the best boys and girls U-17 players to go represent the country at the Africa tournament in Gabon.
Over two thousand teenagers are expected to be screened when the fourth leg of the initiative which started in 2011 kicks off after a launch in Accra on May 28. An eventual list of best players garnered from across the country will form the Ghana team.
The ten regions of Ghana will be divided into four zones to compete in zonal championships in Ho, Kumasi, Cape Coast and Tamale. To be coordinated by GFA officials, the best players from each zone will be selected to play a national finals competition to be held in Sunyani.
‘This year’s Airtel Rising Stars will be by far the best and the most competitive. We are looking at the best players in Ghana at Under-17 level in the country’s juvenile leagues. Only the best players will be selected to make the final squad,’ said Donald Dwira, Head of Corporate Communications at Airtel Ghana.
Since inception in 2011, Airtel Rising Stars, a collaboration between the Ghana Football Association and Airtel aimed at promoting juvenile football in the country has been hailed for its successes. It has produced players like Priscilla Okyere who captained the Black Maidens to a historic bronze finish at the FIFA U-17 female World Cup in 2012 and currently plays for the Black Princesses preparing for the 2014 U-20 FIFA World Cup Canada.
Four more girls from Airtel Rising Stars also played for Ghana in this year’s World Under-17 cup played in Costa Rica. But the programme’s organisers are not resting on their oars and have set themselves some lofty targets ahead of the commencement of this year’s screening.
‘This year, we are targeting the national boys’ under-17 national team as well. We have made a huge statement with the girls’ national team and we will add to the numbers there. But we also want to find players who can have a chance with the Black Starlets,’ Mr. Dwira explained.
The Airtel Rising Stars project is a Corporate Social Responsibility initiative of global telecom giants, Bharti Airtel Group and runs in all 17 countries within which they operate and all 17 will be represented at the Africa tournament in Gabon later in the year.
It has among its long list of accomplished ambassadors such former Ghana defender Sammy Kuffour and Arsenal legend, Tony Adams.
‘If we can find players worthy of representing their country, we will not only be helping them fulfill their talent, we will also help bring honour to the country,’ Donald Dwira said.
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