The Airtel Rising Stars tournament kicks off Monday next week in Nairobi, Kenya and local teams that qualified, Joyce Banda Foundation (in the boys category) and Namalimwe Secondary School (in the girls category) risk not travelling there due to delays of passport issuance by the Immigration Department.
Sponsors Airtel paid for about 35 passports for the students to facilitate their travel due this Friday but the Immigration Department has been dilly dallying the process despite having done the applications last month, sources told Nyasa Times.
Students from both schools have expressed sadness over the delay saying it risks obstructing their trip.
Information reaching Nyasa Timesindicates that Airtel has already purchased air tickets for the students via Kenya Airways in excess of MK9 million and cancelling the trip at this point in time would amount to a gross loss on the part of the sponsor who will also cater for accomodation and upkeep of the teams whilst in Kenya.
An inside source at Malawi Schools Sports Association (MASSA) wondered of the delay yet the Immigration Department assists in such circumstances.
“This is a very worrisome development in as far as promoting local football for young boys and girls is concerned. The sponsor is very committed and we cannot be let down this way. How I wish authorities intervened to rectify the state of affairs and help the students to get their passports in time so that they participate in the tournament in Kenya,” he said after seeking anonymity.
However, sources at the Immigration Department say the situation of passports is beyond control as the department is fast running out of passport books hence preference is given to those that have applied for MK25, 000 and above as opposed to the basic MK15, 100.
Joyce Banda Foundation merged winners in the boys category to represent Malawi whilst Namalimwe will represent the girls’ football in Kenya.
A Pan African soccer tourney – Airtel Rising Stars Africa Soccer Championship – will provide an opportunity for budding stars to showcase and gauge their raw talent with the best in the continent.
The Championship will be part of the Airtel Rising Stars program, a soccer talent initiative that has focused on identifying and nurturing soccer talent from the grassroots onto a national stage.
The tournament will comprise of a preliminary qualifying round, a knockout round and a final. The format of the under 17 tourney will give both boys’ and girls’ teams the chance to assess their team work and individual skills against some of the best nations In Africa.
The football extravaganza will attract teams from some of Africa powerhouses in the under 17 age group such as Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, DRC pitted against upcoming nations such as Gabon, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Burkina Faso amongst others.
Airtel has confirmed that as part of its partnership with DSTV’s sports channel, Super Sports, the Boys and Girls final matches will be broadcasted live on 25th August starting at 0800hrs to 1200hrs CAT.
Winners of Championship to receive a wild card invitation to the Arsenal, Manchester United soccer clinics.
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