Airtel Rising Stars continues to be a bedrock for football stars and the tournament has grown in stature over the years since its inception in 2011.
For the eighth year running, the tournament played countrywide returns bigger and better this year with over sixty districts expected to take part.
The 2019 edition was officially launched on Wednesday with 14 simultaneous district launches held including the main event at Pece stadium in Gulu town.
The other districts where the launches were held include; Jinja, Luweero, Soroti, Lira, Masindi, Arua, Iganga, Hoima, Mbarara, Ntungamo, Masaka and Kampala.
During the main event in Gulu, Airtel Managing Director, V.G Somasekhar highlighted the objectives of the tournament and indicated they are committed to developing and promoting talent in the country.
“Since the inception of this youth grassroots tournament, we have deliberately invested more and more in the development of football across Uganda. Today our sponsorships vary from youth to local leagues, cultural tournaments such Masaza Cup to the national team. We promise more commitment to this tournament to help in nurturing talents,” he said.
Since 2011, the tournament has given rise to several stars such as Faruku Miya, Allan Okello, Shaban Muhammad, Fazilah Ikwaput and Juliet Nalukenge among others.
Nalukenge who attended the official launch lauded Airtel for creating the platform where young players show their adeptness.
“I’m happy to be here and proud to be one of the products of the Airtel Rising Stars tournament. I thank Airtel for giving us this platform and I urge young players to use this chance well,” said Nakulenge who plays for the Crested Cranes and a senior five student at Kawempe Muslim SS.
National Council of Sports Vice chairman Technical, Hajji Zubair Galiwango who presided over as the guest of honour on behalf of Minister of State for Sports Charles Bakkabulindi appreciated efforts made by Airtel in developing sports.
“As government, we appreciate Airtel because, on top of providing communication services to Ugandans, they have also taken the initiative to appreciate talent in the country. A tournament like Airtel Rising Stars gives an opportunity to young players to develop and there’s enough evidence about the value of the tournament since its inception in 2011.”
The Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) was also represented at the launch through Vice President Justus Mugisha who indicated that Airtel has been a great factor in the development of football in Uganda over the years.
“As FUFA, we have proof that our partnership with Airtel has yielded fruits over the years. The Uganda Cranes have qualified to Africa Cup of Nations back to back. We believe through Airtel Rising Stars, more talented players will come up the ranks to feed the senior team like we have seen with Faruku Miya, Allan Okello, and others.”
The 2019 edition will get underway on 15th July 2019 with the inter-district competitions. 60 districts have been earmarked to feature this year, a new record at the tournament.
As part of this year’s tournament, Airtel will handover goal posts, soccer nets, and balls to 40 schools countrywide.
There is also an increase in cash prize with national winners taking seven million shillings. Last year the winners got five million shillings.
The cash prize for the runners up has also increased from three to five million shillings.
The increase is also affected at the regional level where regional champions will earn one million five hundred shillings while runners up will get one million shillings.
Others prizes include certificates, medals, trophies, golden boot for the Most Valuable Player (MVP), phones and other merchandise from Airtel.
94 games will be played at the inter-district level from which eight boys and eight girls teams will advance to the national finals slated for 7th September 2019 in Kampala region.
Last year, Kampala and Kitara defeated Buganda and Western to win in the boys’ and girls’ categories respectively.