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Airtel Pan-African Rising Stars Championship Draw Announced

By Uche Peter

Lagos, Nigeria; 16th September, 2013: The fixtures for the 2nd Edition of the Airtel Rising Stars Championship holding in Nigeria's Economic Capital City, Lagos, have been released yesterday in a classy ceremony that attracted several corporate bigwigs and Ex- International footballers.

Sixteen boy's teams and twelve girl's teams from 16 African Nations have been drawn in four and three respective groups of four teams each.

The Fixtures for the preliminary rounds of the tourney will be played in a league format.

The boys' teams have been pooled into four groups as follows: Group A has Nigeria, Malawi, DRC and Rwanda. Group B has Niger, Gabon, Burkina Faso and Chad. Group C has Kenya, Uganda, Madagascar and Congo Brazzaville while Group D has Zambia, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Tanzania.

The Girls teams have been pooled into 3 groups as follows: Group A has Nigeria, DRC, Kenya and Gabon while Group B has Ghana, Burkina Faso, Chad and Zambia. Group has the following teams competing for a place in the knock out stage: Uganda, Sierra Leone, Malawi and Tanzania.

The draws for the matches conducted by a company of ex-international footballers Augustine Eguavoen, Mutiu Adepoju, Ann Chiejinne, Mercy Akide and Ann Okunwa with support from Lagos FA Chairman, Barr. Seyi Akinwunmi and CEO/MD, Airtel Nigeria, Segun Ogunsanya, host Nigeria will on Monday open hostilities in the male and female categories as the first round of group matches get underway at the Agege Township Stadium, Lagos

The Nigerian ARS male team will test the might of their counterparts from Democratic Republic of Congo in the first match for Group A while the female team comes up against the Kenyan female team in the first match for Group A.

Four match venues have been designated for the ARS Africa Tournament, the biggest in the continent, and these include Agege Township Stadium, Agege; Onikan Stadium, NIS Sports Field and Legacy Pitch, both inside the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.

The opening and closing ceremonies as well as the final matches for both categories have been scheduled to take place at Agege Township Stadium, Agege, while other group matches will be played at the three other centres.

The Championships will take place on 16th to the 22nd of September, 2013. The tournament will comprise of a preliminary qualifying round, a knockout round and a final.

Speaking at the draws, the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Segun Ogunsanya, described the Airtel Rising Stars U-17 Tournament as a well-thought out vehicle designed to promote brotherhood among African nations.

According to the Chief Executive, the telecoms company is connecting and uniting the continent through the ARS tournament which is the biggest youth tournament in the whole of Africa.

“The very idea of this competition is quite visionary in nature and revolutionary in scope. Perhaps more than anything else, this competition underscores the imperatives of a united Africa and the values of African brotherhood. Airtel is connecting Africa to her passions and lighting the candles of brotherhood across the continent,” he said.

Speaking further, Mr. Ogunsanya revealed that the ARS initiative was created to provide a pool of talents for the sustenance of Africa's great football tradition.

His words, “In setting up a competition of this magnitude, Airtel Africa is calling attention to Africa's heritage of healthy brotherly rivalry and all the values that once made us a great as a people. ARS came into existence to establish a pool of talents for the sustenance of Africa's great football tradition.”

Also speaking, the Chairman of the Lagos State Football Association, Barr. Seyi Akinwunmi commended Airtel for its commitment to revolutionizing sports development in the country.

His words, “I am quite excited that Airtel decided to do it bottom-up. This is the way it should go. Before now, what we had was top-bottom. We were not able to harness the talents available to us, but now, Airtel is changing the face of football development in Africa.”

The Airtel Rising Stars Championship is part of the Airtel Rising Stars program, a soccer talent initiative that has focused on identifying and nurturing soccer talent from the grassroots onto a national stage. The Airtel Africa championships will be officially opened today, September 16th, 2013 at the Agege Township Stadium, Lagos.

The opening and Final matches will be broadcasted live on DSTV Super Sports channels across the English speaking countries in Africa.

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