Former Arsenal FC player, Robert Pires graced the grand finale of the recently concluded 2013 Airtel Rising Stars Africa Championship in Lagos on Sunday.
The tournament ended with Niger Republic going home as winners in the boys category after defeating Zambia 7-6 on penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw in the final played in Lagos.
Speaking at a dinner put together for him, the Arsenal Legend expressed appreciation over the vision of the telecoms company to promote grassroots football development in Africa.
“I am happy to be in the country and must commend this opportunity to discover and develop football talents,” Pires said.
Airtel Rising Stars is a youth football initiative undertaken by Airtel Africa. The programme, launched in 2011 in 15 Africa countries is a soccer talent programme that aims to focus on identifying and nurturing budding soccer talent from the grassroots onto an international stage.
The programme targets both boys and girls between the ages of 13 – 17. The boys and girls are encouraged to form teams and register at selected locations including Airtel shops where they are then entered into the tournament on qualification.
Participating countries in the Airtel Rising Stars Competition include; Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, DRC, Niger, Madagascar and Gabon.