The headman of Ghana’s Football Association (GFA) says talent discovered by Airtel Rising Stars will fill future spaces in the senior national team, the Black Stars.
This is because Airtel Rising Stars is in tune with Ghana’s national policy onfootball which requires players selected from 2008 onwards to represent Ghana to have some formal education as well. The GFA boss endorsed Airtel Rising Stars as possessing the right approach to discovering young talented footballers by blending talent with education.
“We have realised that players who have some formal education are much better than those who do not have at all. Educated players appreciate the work ethic offootball, the discipline required to get the job done, are often not intimidated when they go abroad and do a much better job representing Ghana than those who are not educated. Airtel Rising Stars is for players who are in school. Very soon places in the Black Stars will be filled only by players from Airtel Rising Stars and similar programs like these” said Kwasi Nyantakyi.
Airtel Rising Stars is a corporate Social Responsibility project run by global telecommunication giant, Bharti Airtel. The competition which seeks to give young footballers, both male and female a ‘Launchpad’ to their careers has already been run three times in Ghana. Some of the successes from past seasons of Airtel Rising Stars include Priscilla Okyere, the captain of Ghana’s Black Maidens team which claimed third place at the World Women’s Juvenile Championship in Azerbaijan in 2012. Four other girls from last year’s Airtel Rising Stars have made it into the present national Under -17 team, the Black Maidens who also played in the World Cup in Costa Rica.
It is these successes that urged Minister for Youth and Sports, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah to defy a busy schedule to attend the launch of the fourth season of Airtel Rising Stars.
“I came here and left because I had some high level government meetings. But I have come back to say to all of you that the Ministry endorses Airtel Rising Starsas a crucial project for the development of Ghana Football. Airtel has got it right. Finding talent which is in schools. This is how all the other sports can develop. If we support Airtel Rising Stars to flourish, that is how all other sports can learn.” Said Elvis Afriyie Ankrah.
The Chief Executive Officer of Airtel, Lucy Quist, a passionate sports enthusiast herself says the primary objective of the 2014 Airtel Rising Stars is ‘tapping into the power of potential.’
“When I was in school, I was involved with many things. Eventually I settled on running. Now if someone had discovered me at that time, maybe I will be running for my country and not running a company. Airtel Rising Stars is about tapping into the power of potential. We know there are many talented footballers out there. We also know tapping into your potential now can help you change your fortunes and the destinies of your families and many other people. Allow Airtel to help you change your life by taking part in this year’s Airtel Rising Stars. We have already held this competition these past three years which shows our brand consistency and now we will not stop until we discover you. If you are out there, we will find you” Said Lucy Quist.
This year’s Airtel Rising Stars will be much bigger and better. Ghana has been divided into four zones to aid an expanded talent discovery drive. After the zonal championships, the national finals featuring the best male and female teams from all four zones will be played in Sunyani in July.
A national select side, dubbed the Ghana Airtel Rising Stars Team comprising sixteen boys and sixteen girls will then proceed to represent the country at the Africa finals of Airtel Rising Stars to be played in Gabon in August.
GFA boss Kwasi Nyantakyi applauded the expansion of Airtel Rising Stars this term and said “ I promise you at Airtel that you have no idea the positive effects that Airtel Rising Stars will have on Ghana Football. This competition is good and as far as touching lives, Airtel Rising Stars will definitely have a huge impact on footballers. “ Concluded Kwasi Nyantakyi.