Action between Spartans and KJT in the Kampala Region boys' final at Ssendi's play ground, Kabowa Credit: KAWOWO SPORTS

2018 Airtel Rising Stars:

Grand Finals:

  • 23rd – 26th August

*To be hosted in Fort Portal

[/media-credit] Action between Spartans and KJT in the Kampala Region boys’ final at Ssendi’s play ground, Kabowa Credit: KAWOWO SPORTS

Following a grueling five week’s action of the 2018 Airtel Rising Stars (ARS) regional qualifiers, the respective teams will now switch focus to the national grand finals coming towards the end of August.

According to FUFA Human Resource capacity building manager Jackson Nyiima, the official who has keenly supervised all these regional qualifiers, the whole process was a complete success in all the regions traversed.

Upon this back ground, Nyiima encourages the regions to use the remaining time for adequate preparations so that they stage the best performances;

We had a successful time during the qualifiers. We did not encounter many challenges. I encourage all the regions to prepare well ahead of the national finals that will take place between 23rd – 26th August 2018 in Fort Portal. Our official sponsors (Airtel Uganda) will provide transport to all the teams, lunch and supper as well as accommodation to all the teams.

[/media-credit] FUFA Human Resource capacity building manager Jackson Nyiima during the screening exercise in Bushenyi where the Kitara and Western regions qualifiers were held Credit: Kawowo Sports | DAVID ISABIRYE

Nyiima also warned the teams against the deadly age cheating vice.

Teams are warned against age cheating. We selected players specifically meant to play at the grand finals and these are same players that regions should come with although there will be another screening exercise in Fort Portal before the main finals kick-off

For a quick reminder, the regional qualifiers that had teams with players under tha age of 17 across the country kicked off in Kampala, hosted by Rubaga Football Association (RFA) at the Ssendi and Kitebi primary school play grounds.

[/media-credit] Girls action in the Eastern region qualifiers held at Tororo Police play ground Credit: Kawowo Sports | DAVID ISABIRYE

Regional winners:

Kampala Junior Team (KJT) Academy was the boy’s champion, having dethroned Spartans 1-0.

Uganda Martyrs’ High School, Lubaga overcame Gadafi Intergrated School 1-0 in the girls’ final.

The Buganda qualifiers were hosted by the Masaka Football Association at Nyendo – Kasana and Masaka Recreational Stadium.

Buikwe based Rays of Grace and Divine Stars academy from Nyendo triumphed in the boys and girls respective catergories.

The Eastern and North East regions were jointly held in Tororo at the Police and King George play grounds.

Mbale Tigers won the boys’ catergory and Kataka She-FC smiled to the girls’ version in the Eastern region.

For North East, Ecos S.S from Soroti took home the girls’ overall trophy and another Soroti based entity Star Light S.S won the boy’s version.

[/media-credit] Rays of Grace Academy players celebrate on the podium with their trophy and Shs 1M dummy cheque Credit: Kawowo Sports

Gulu Municipality hosted the Northern and West Nile regions qualifiers.

Kitgum Rwot Ker from Kitgum district won the boys catergory as Lira’s  National Youth Football Academy took home the girls’ event during the Northern region qualifiers.

In West Nile, Yumbe Heroes from Yumbe district and Moyo district’s FHL Simba smiled to the boys and girls’ titles respectively.

The final round of qualifiers took play in Western region, as hosted by Bushenyi district at the Nyakabirizzi and Bushenyi main play grounds.

Kiryandongo won the Kitara region’s boys title and Toro Queens took home of the girl’s championship.

Kigezi Football Academy from Kabale district overcame Lions Academy 6-5 in a tense penalty shoot-out after normal time had ended one goal apiece.

Meanwhile, Sheema Girls team were too good for Kisoro Young Simba in the Western region girls’ final.

[/media-credit] FUFA Executive Committee member Chris Kalibala with a speech during the prize giving ceremony Credit: Kawowo Sports | DAVID ISABIRYE

FUFA Executive Committee member Chris Kalibala, who has been present at each and every regional qualification center lauds the sponsors for making the programme reality.

In the same vein, Kalibala, also a delegate representing Western Uganda throws a token of appreciation to the regions for organizing the teams to make the qualifiers a success;

I wish to thank Airtel Uganda Limited for sponsoring this programme since 2011. They have proved that they are the true lovers of Uganda’s football since they sponsor the national team (Uganda Cranes) as well. I also appreciate the regional football bodies for helping in organizing the teams that took part in the qualifiers.

For starters, each of the eight regional champions got a branded Airtel Uganda jersey, gold medals, trophy, certificates and Shs 1,000,000 cash prize.

The other eight runners up were rewarded with silver medals, certificates, jerseys and Shs 500,000 each.

It should be noted that the national champions will get gold medals, jerseys, trophy, and certificates on top of a hefty cash prize of Shs. 5,000,000.

The first runners up will get silver medals, jerseys, certificates and Shs. 3,000,000.

[/media-credit] Airtel Uganda Brand and Communications manager Remmie Kisakye Credit: KAWOWO SPORTS

Airtel Uganda head of communications and brand, Remmie Kisakye echoes the telecommunications giants’ commitment to continue supporting this programme.

There are fruits from the AIrtel Rising Stars since we kicked off in 2011. Players have been identified through the ARS and taken up by clubs through to the national team and the best example is Faruku Miya who even scored the goal that took us to the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time since 1978 when Uganda Cranes had last played there.

A select team of 50 players (25 per gender) will be picked by the technical team during the grand finals and will be recommended to the national U-17 team.

[/media-credit] Airtel Rising Stars 2018 official launch at Lugogo, Kampala Credit: KAWOWO SPORTS
[/media-credit] Airtel Uganda’s Brand and Strategy manager Noela Byuma (right) hands over Airtel branded goodies to a FUFA delegate, Nkugwa Credit: Kawowo Sports | DAVID ISABIRYE
[/media-credit] Buganda region girls champions Dive Girls team celebrate their glory at Masaka Recreational Stadium during their qualifiers Credit: Kawowo Sports | DAVID ISABIRYE

The main objective among others was to lay a foundation as well as provide a plat form to nurture young talented players as a basis to ensure continuity for the abundant football pool of players.

Established players as Faruku Miya, Kezironi Kizito, Martin Kizza, Ivan Eyam, Pius “TZ Iniesta” Obuya, Bashir Asiku, Fazilah Ikwaput, Lillian Mutunzo and Yudaya Nakayenze among others have played this programme.

The Airtel Rising Stars (ARS) was started in 2011 to to-date (only missed out in the 2017).

All regional champions:


  • Boys: Kampala Junior Team (KJT) Academy (Kampala)
  • Girls: Uganda Martyrs’ High School, Lubaga (Kampala)


  • Boys: Rays of Grace Academy (Buikwe)
  • Girls: Divine Stars, Nyendo (Maska)


  • Boys: Mbale Tigers (Mbale)
  • Girls: Kataka She-FC (Mbale)

North East:

  • Boys: Star Light S.S (Soroti)
  • Girls: Ecos S.S (Soroti)


  • Boys: Kitgum Rwot Ker (Kitgum)
  • Girls: National Youth Football Academy (Lira)

West Nile:

  • Boys: Yumbe Heroes (Yumbe)
  • Girls: FHL Simba (Moyo)


  • Boys: Kiryandongo (Kiryadongo)
  • Girls: Toro Queens (Fort Portal)


  • Boys: Kigezi Football Academy (Kabale)
  • Girls: Sheema Girls Team (Sheema)

David Isabirye is a senior staff writer for Kawowo Sports where he covers most of the major events.

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