By Sahr Morris Jnr
Sierra Leone football legend, who is also Airtel Rising Stars (ARS) soccer ambassador, Mohamed Kallon, on Tuesday at the company’s headquarters, Regent, launched the ARS season IV tournament.
Before officially launching the tournament, the former Inter Milan and AS Monaco striker said he was proud to be part of the ARS tournament because he believes in grassroots football.
He said he is also proud because since the ARS tournament started, a lot has been achieved in terms of football development and giving the young players opportunity to showcase their talents.
He said: “My team FC Kallon has benefited a lot from the tournament and I am grateful and a proud man today.”
The former Leone Stars captain, in a symbolic way of launching the tournament this year, penned his signature on two of the tournament’s balls.
In his address, Airtel Sierra Leone Managing Director, Sudipto Chowdhury, said like previous years, this year’s tournament will continue to identify and nurture budding soccer talents from the grassroots stage on to the national stage. He said their plan this year is to unveil a robust strategy through four key pillars, which are: massification, inclusion, sustainability and celebrations.
According to Chowdhury, under the massification, they will expand the tournament to all the 149 chiefdoms in the country and are aiming to register 1,000 teams, 400 more than the number registered last year.
“Under the inclusion, we have decided to adopt the Amputee football teams which will run a football gala parallel to the ARS, and in addition exhibition matches will be played between GT Bank and Airtel plus the partnership with the Sports Writers Association of Sierra Leone to ensure we have professional coverage. Winners of the best press coverage will join the ARS team in the Pan Africa tournament,” he said.
Also, the Airtel MD revealed that to sustain the players and keep the ARS alive, they are committed to provide a training and coaching session for the 20 ARS kids at the Mohamed Kallon academy.
Meanwhile, the tournament registration will kick-off on May 20 and will run until May 30. Registration forms must be collected from all Airtel offices nationwide.