The Ghana Football Association has described the 2014 Airtel Rising Stars as the blueprint for soccer development in Ghana after supervising the national finals of the competition in Sunyani.
The crème de la crème of young football talent from all ten regions in Ghana converged on Sunyani to compete for the title of the national champion of Airtel Rising Stars. However the individual honour of being selected to represent Ghana at the national Under 15 level was the most challenging award that both the male and female players were in quest of.
“There will be two selections from here,” announced Ghana Football Association Executive Committee Member George Afriyie after sitting through two days of breathtaking football.
“The first team will go to Gabon to play in the Airtel Rising Stars Africa Championship. The second team will go to South Korea to play in a special Under 15 World Invitational tournament. The quality we have seen here is very high and we have no doubt the footballers you have seen in Sunyani today will be wearing the jersey of the Black Stars in the near future,” said George Afriyie.
Zone 4 of Airtel Rising Stars this year comprising the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo Regions won the boys competition with a 3-0 win over Zone 2 comprising the three Northern Regions in the finals. Zone 1 which is made up of Greater Accra, Eastern and Volta Region finished the tournament with a bronze for third place.
The Girls competition was won by Zone 1 with Greater Accra and Volta Region dominating the team. The Central and Western Regional female team won silver while the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo team settled for Bronze.
While the soccer was hailed as top notch, the support from the fans at the stadium was brilliant and got to a crescendo in the boy’s gold medal match which the combined Ashanti and Brong Ahafo team had vowed to host and win.
Lucy Quist, the Managing Director of Airtel was full of praise for the players for their hard work but charged them to bring honour to Ghana by winning in both Korea and Gabon.
“On May 28 this year, we launched the 2014 Airtel Rising Stars project. The aim was to tap into your potential as future football stars. You are the best of about 20,000 young footballers who took part in the selection process and I am proud of what you have achieved,” Lucy Quist said.
The Managing Director of Airtel continued: “At Airtel, we believe in the power of potential. We have identified your incredible talent. Now we will help you leave your dreams to become the best in the world. Now as you go to Gabon and Korea, remember that you must make Ghana proud by winning and I have no doubt that you will succeed.”
The Deputy Regional Minister of the Brong Ahafo Region, Honorable. Justice Samuel Adjei commended Airtel Ghana for their investment in youth football and the great work they have done on Airtel Rising Stars.
“Airtel is creating the future with this tournament. The football I have seen here tells me the future is bright for Ghana football. Of course Zone 4 which comprises BA and Ashanti won and that is my zone so I am extremely happy. However Ghana is blessed to have this Airtel Rising Stars tournament which is helping the youth to discover their talent,” said Hon. Justice Samuel Adjei.
Forty boys and twenty girls will begin camping on August 18 for both Gabon and Korea. The two lists will then be pruned down to 16 boys and 16 girls for Gabon while 18 boys will head to Korea.
Both the Gabon and Korea tournaments begin on August 25, 2014.
“We have a task to win both the Airtel Rising Stars Africa championship in Gabon and the invitational tournament in Korea. We have enough talent to do that but now the work must begin immediately,” concluded George Afriyie, Chairman of the National Juvenile Committee of the Ghana Football Association.