Ashanti Region won the third edition of the Airtel Rising Stars (ARS) programme which took place at the Sunyani Coronation Park in the Brong Ahafo Region, where football talents from the northern sector of the country, comprising other Zone One sides (Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions) participated.
The annual programme is a sports initiative introduced by telecommunication company Airtel, which seeks to discover and nurture talented under-17 male and female footballers and providing them the platform to become world class stars.
The other zonal competition, involving Eastern, Volta, Central, Greater Accra and Western regions, comes off in the Western regional capital of Takoradi. The winner will meet Zone One champions, Ashanti, in a national contest in Accra.
After the national event, two winning teams — male and female — will participate in an inter-country tournament in Lagos, Nigeria. From there, four boys and two girls will participate in a one-week soccer clinic where they would be trained and mentored by coaches from Arsenal FC of England.
According to the Brands Assets and Properties Manager of Airtel Ghana, Mr Kwame Gyan, the programme was in association with the Ghana Football Association (GFA), which the company was relying on for their professional and technical expertise to organise the tournament and select the potential stars.
He said the GFA would be monitoring those players and work out ways of roping them into the national under-17 teams at the appropriate times, disclosing that already, one of the winners in last year’s competition was playing for the national female under-17 team.
The Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, Joseph Yamin, noted at the ceremony that the success of the national teams largely hinged on the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders to identify talented young and budding football players at the colts level.
Those talents so unearthed, he said, could be groomed to ultimately become stars in the senior national team.
Story: Akwasi Ampratwum-Mensah