The Airtel Rising Stars tournament returns bigger and better this year with a record participation of 60 districts confirmed.
The annual grassroots tournament sponsored by Uganda’s leading telecommunication network Airtel will run for the eighth successive year with the main objective of nurturing talent.
The 2019 edition was officially launched on Wednesday with 14 simultaneous district launches held including the main event at Pece stadium in Gulu town.
The other districts where the launches were held include; Jinja, Luweero, Soroti, Lira, Masindi, Arua, Iganga, Hoima, Mbarara, Ntungamo, Masaka and Kampala.
Airtel Managing Director, Mr. V. G Somasekhar believes the tournament has registered several success stories since its inception in 2011 and indicated they are committed towards developing and promoting talent in the country.
” Since the inception of this youth grassroots tournament, we have deliberately invested more and more in the development of football across Uganda. Today our sponsorships vary from youth to local leagues, cultural tournaments such Masaza Cup to the national team. We promise more commitment to this tournament to help in nurturing talents.” He said during the main launch in Gulu.
Crested Cranes striker Juliet Nalukenge who attended the official launch lauded Airtel for creating the platform where young talent is spotted.
” I’m happy to be here and proud to be one of the products of the Airtel Rising Stars tournament. I thank Airtel for giving us this platform and I urge young players to use this chance we’ll. ” Said Nakulenge who plays for the Crested Cranes and a senior five student at Kawempe Muslim SS.
Other prominent players that have played at the Airtel Rising Stars include Faruku Miya, Keziron Kizito, Allan Okello, Martin Kiiza,Fazilah Ikwaput and Sandra Nabweteme among others.
National Council of Sports Vice chairman Technical, Hajji Zubair Galiwango who presided over as the guest of honour on behalf of Minister of State for Sports Charles Bakkabulindi appreciated efforts made by Airtel in developing sports.
“As government we appreciate Airtel because on top of providing communication services to Ugandans, they have also taken the initiative to appreciate talent in the country. A tournament like Airtel Rising Stars gives an opportunity to young players to develop and there’s enough evidence about the value of the tournament since its inception in 2011.
The 2019 edition will start on 15th July 2019 with the inter district competitions. 60 districts have been earmarked to feature this year, a new record at the tournament.
As part of this year’s tournament, Airtel will handover goal posts, soccer nets and balls to 40 schools countrywide.
There is also an increase in cash prize with national winners taking seven million shillings. Last year the winners got five million shillings.
The cash prize for the runners up has also increased from three to five million shillings.
The increase is also effected at the regional level where regional champions will earn one million five hundred shillings while runners up will get one million shillings.
Others prizes include certificates, medals, trophies, golden boot for the Most Valuable Player (MVP), phones and other merchandise from Airtel.
94 games will be played at the inter district level from which eight boys and eight girls teams will advance to the national finals slated for 7th September 2019 in Kampala region.
Last year, Kampala and Kitara defeated Buganda and Western to win in the boys’ and girls’ categories respectively.