Super Falcons Coach Hails ARS Tourney

By Uche Peter

The coach of Super Falcons, Edwin Okon, has expressed delight with the quality of U-17 female players discovered at the just concluded South South Zonal Airtel Rising Stars U-17 Championship at the Sharks Stadium in Port Harcourt, Rivers State last weekend.

Speaking to shortly after he visited the competition venue, he stated that the future of female football development in Nigeria is bright with the calibre of players he saw at the competition and commended Airtel for assisting in unearthing future stars from the grassroots through the initiative.

'I'm extremely delighted to be here at the competition venue and from the quality of players I have seen in this competition, I'm impressed because Nigeria has a reservoir of highly talented players at the grassroots.

'The future of female football in the country is quite bright because some of these players discovered here require little polishing in terms of their game before they hit stardom.

'I want to thank Airtel for taking the pains to organize this competition which is aimed at giving our female football a new lease of life and also urge more corporate bodies doing business in the country to support the development of Nigerian football,' he said.

In the final match in the female category between Akwa Ibom and Rivers Team A, which ended 3-1 on penalties in favour of the Rivers team, Okon revealed that Udeme Sylvester Uko,

Juliet Imo Bassey, Uduak-Obong Monday Peter and Bright Ayakem Etuk of Akwa Ibom team and Grace Agu, Adepoju Damilola, Adimson Frances, Chinaka Gift and Ifeoma Obed from Rivers Team A are possible prospects for Nigerian youth teams

Ex-Nigerian International, Chioma Ajunwa-Oparah is serving as the Technical Adviser to the Port Harcourt zonal team. Teams from Delta, Rivers, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Bayelsa participated in the zonal championship.

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).