Airtel Pumps K4.5 Million in ARS

AIRTEL Zambia yesterday launched its fourth edition of the Airtel Rising Stars (ARS) which is Africa’s largest grassroots football initiative and will gobble more than K4.5 million.

Company managing director Charity Lumpa said this year’s budget has increased by K500, 000 from last year’s programme and that the ARS programme has in the last three years grown successfully and bearing fruits.

Lumpa said it was the company’s dream for the ARS to raise the young players who would not only be marketable locally and internationally, but would also bring the World Cup to the country.

“I am glad to note that we are headed in the right direction because four boys from season two have been adopted in the national team and the ARS girl’s team represented the country at the Costa Rica 2014 FIFA Women World Cup finals,” Lumpa said.

Sports Deputy Minister Christopher Mulenga commended Airtel Zambia and the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) for their efforts in identifying talent and empowering the youths.

“It is worth noting that Airtel and FAZ efforts through the ARS in the past three years has already started bearing fruits and I am convinced beyond reasonable doubt that programmes like this are aimed at promoting good lifestyle in our children,” Mulenga said.

FAZ president Kalusha Bwalya said the partnership between the association and the mobile service provider had achieved a lot through the programme. Kalusha said the players that had been identified and those that will be identified during this year’s edition would not be abandoned.

Kalusha said last year’s ARS was used to build the under-17 national team after the previous one graduated to the under-20 team.

“With our eyes fixed on the CAF 2017 Africa Youth Championship that we are going to host, FAZ has set out an ambitious programme to nurture and expose the boys and girls identified through the ARS programme and it is our hope that the corporate world can emulate Airtel and get on board to achieve this national dream,” Kalusha said.

Source : The Times of Zambia

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