The K70 million 2015 Airtel Rising Stars (ARS) football competition was officially launched Saturday, July 4, 2015 in Salima, where sponsors Airtel in conjunction with Malawi Schools Sports Association (Massa) held a number of activities to celebrate the landmark sponsorship.
Gracing the occasion were officials from government led by Principal Secretary II for Youth and Sports Mwandidya, a delegation from Sports Council headed by Executive Secretary George Jana, Football Association of Malawi (Fam) Technical Director John Kaputa, Salima District Commissioner Blessings Nkhoma and Councillor Janet Chipeni.
The launch started with a grand parade led by Malawi Police Band from Kamuzu Road all the way to Salima Community Ground, where there were a number of activities including a football match.
Addressing the gathering at the community ground, Guest of Honour Mwandidya commended Airtel Malawi for being government’s true partner in the development of sports in the country.
“There can be no meaningful development in sports without investing in the youth. The youths being targeted here are the national team stars of tomorrow. As a Ministry responsible for youth development and sports, we do not take the gesture from Airtel lightly,” said Mwandidya.
Massa vice president Severia Chalira joined government in thanking Airtel for the sponsorship. She also hailed the sponsors for compensating the Rising Stars who failed to make the trip to the 2014 Gabon Pan African Airtel Rising Stars tournament due to the Ebola outbreak in some West African countries. Airtel presented each of the stars with K45,000 ($100).
Speaking on behalf of the sponsors, Airtel Zone Business Manager for Central Zone II Misheck Kavuta said the sponsorship was a sign of Airtel’s commitment to contribute to the development of sports and nation building.
“Sports enhances development as it keeps the youth away from bad behaviours that can destroy their careers. Sports is also a source of employment and so many sportsmen including footballers are earning a lot of money from sports. With the ARS sponsorship, which is the biggest investment in youth soccer, the game of football will never the be the same,” said Kavuta.
The Airtel official thanked government, Sports Council, Fam and Massa for contributing to the success of the ARS initiative.
After the speeches, there was a football match between Salima Select and Airtel Rising Stars 4, which ended one-all. ARS 4 had a mixture of boys and girls from the 2014 squad that failed to travel to Gabon.