Adepoju, Adisa Commend Airtel Over ARS

By Uche Peter
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Ilorin, Nigeria; July 6, 2014: Former Nigerian internationals, Mutiu Adepoju and Amusa Adisa have both commended the management of Airtel Nigeria for their investment in grassroots football with the Airtel Rising Star (ARS) initiative.

The ex-internationals, while speaking during the Ilorin zonal championship of the Airtel Rising Stars U-17 Tournament, said the initiative by Airtel Nigeria has empowered the younger generation to kick off a rewarding career in football, adding that the tournament exemplifies a veritable platform needed to enable the budding talents in the countryexcel.

While commending the sponsors for keeping faith with the vision for the fourth consecutive season, Adepoju who serves as the technical adviser of the Ilorin zonal teams, expressed happiness that the initiative is contributing to efforts geared towards addressing grassroots football development in the country.

" I am really happy with what is going on. Airtel is setting a good example and this will go a long way. With this I know that the future of football is bright in the country," he said.

The former Super Eagles midfielder also assured on the quality of his zonal sides to challenge for honours when the National Finals get underway in Lagos later in July.

His word,'With the calibre of players inherent in the zone, I am sure of a good outcome at the national championship later in the month in Lagos. We have the players that can make us proud.'

Also speaking, Adisa showered encomiums on the telecoms company for the demonstration of commitment to developing the youths of the country especially those gifted with football skills.He also called on coaches in charge of national youth teams to take advantage of the ARS platform to discover fresh talents.

"I think Airtel has really done well with this initiative. This is not the first time but the fourth edition and I know that they can only get better. You can see that the players already have the basics which is the most important thing. I want to recommend that prizes be provided for the runners up too to encourage them for participating. National team coaches should also beam their searchlight on the competition so as to discover fresh talents that will take over from the ageing ones" he advised.

Meanwhile, the Ilorin zonal championship was concluded at the weekend with Kwara State defeating Ekiti in the final matches in the male and female categories. The teams also picked up the sole tickets to the National Finals in both categories later in July.

Former Super Eagles Midfielder, Mutiu Adepoju is serving as the Technical Adviser to the Ilorin zonal team. Over 50 teams from Kwara, Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti and Osun State participated in the week-long event.

The zonal championship is a significant stage in the ARS circle as it offers equal opportunities to all registered participants to showcase their skills under the watchful eyes of tournament's technical advisers, leading grassroots coaches, YSFON officials and media partners.

About a thousand teams comprising 16,000 players are expected to feature in this year's edition of the ARS. Not less than 50,000 active participants have been recorded in the last three seasons of the tournament.

The ARS U-17 tournament, a pan-African initiative of Airtel Africa, is designed to provide support for the development of football talents across Nigeria. It aims at discovering talented male and female students of secondary school age and providing them with platform to gain football skills and develop into professional footballers.

The tournament enjoys the support of football bodies such as Lagos State Football Association (LSFA), Youth Sports Federation of Nigeria (YSFON), Arsenal Football Club and Nigeria School Sports Federation (NSSF).