Airtel Africa, one of Manchester United’s regional mobile partners, has returned with a second season of its successful youth football initiative, Airtel Rising Stars (ARS).
The programme is the largest in Africa and aims to find some of the continent’s newest footballing talent by identifying it at a grassroots level and nurturing it all the way to the national stage.
Ex-Reds Quinton Fortune and Dwight Yorke travelled to Africa to attend the official launches of ARS 2012. Fortune, who helped launch the programme last year, visited the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville and Tanzania, while Yorke went to Sierra Leone and Gabon.
Fortune was in Africa as a United ambassador promoting youth football. As part of the visit, both players met Football Association representatives from each country, all of whom are supporting the programme.
The competition is open to anyone under the age of 17 and Airtel will be working with local federations and sporting bodies to find Africa’s most promising sporting talent.
The regional and national tournaments will put forward the most talented players to attend a coaching clinic run by Manchester United Soccer Schools.
And for the first time there will be an inter-country tournament in Nairobi, Kenya, in which the top girls’ and boys’ teams from each participating country compete over four days for the title of Airtel Rising Stars African Champion.
United’s commercial director Richard Arnold said: “We are very pleased by the success of last year’s programme and we will continue to throw our full support behind Airtel Rising Stars.
"Last year, we had the pleasure to work closely with a number of extremely talented players from the different markets across Africa, and I have no doubt that we will see equally talented individuals make it through to the clinic stage this time around.