Bharti Airtel, India’s top telecom operator announced the kick off of ‘Airtel Rising Stars’ (ARS) one of India’s largest under-16 soccer talent hunt which has been launched in association with Manchester United (one of the best soccer clubs in the world). ‘Airtel Rising Stars’ is a rigorous scouting program that will cover 16 cities across India and choose 12 talented footballers who will get the chance-of-a-lifetime to attend a week long training camp with Manchester United in Old Trafford, England.
This announcement was made in a press conference held in the presence of Sanjay Kapoor (CEO – India & South Asia, Bharti Airtel), Manchester United football legend Dwight Yorke as well as ace footballer and ARS brand ambassador Sunil Chhetri. This 3 months long talent hunt will be conducted in 16 cities (including Mumbai, Delhi, Goa, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Calicut, Chandigarh and Jaipur) with the support of the respective State Football Associations.
Sanjay Kapoor of Airtel commented on the conference “Followed by over 1.6 billion fans worldwide, soccer is a cult sport amongst youngsters across the globe. In fact, millions in the Indian subcontinent closely follow the game and aspire to play alongside professional soccer players. Given the mass appeal of football and a large youth population, we are uniquely positioned to tap and nurture young soccer talent. Aimed at recognizing and training such talent, we are today excited to launch ‘Airtel Rising Stars’ as a hunt for the best under-16 soccer players across India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. As a game, soccer represents the principles of team-play and ‘friendship’ – thus making it a perfect fit for brand Airtel. We see ‘Airtel Rising Stars’ as an exciting strategic step towards strengthening our brand positioning and appeal to the youth”.
Richard Arnold, Manchester United’s Commercial Director said “We were very pleased to associate with the ‘Airtel Rising Stars’ programme in India and look forward to working closely with a number of extremely talented players. With 35 million Manchester United followers, India is one of our fastest growing fan bases and I have no doubt that we will see equally talented individuals in this country too. The programme is one of the largest of its kind in India and it is a great opportunity for us to work with these talented players in order to coach them on how to play the Manchester United way.”
- The unique format of ‘Airtel Rising Stars’ program will ensure that every player gets an equal opportunity to showcase his skills and playing acumen through a series of selection criteria, overseen by renowned and officially certified coaches in each centre.
- The best three players from each city will then be picked to attend a final six-day camp-cum-selection trials by coaches from Manchester United.
- The 48 players will be divided into four teams of 12 each and will be tested on all parameters (including physical attributes, individual skills, match situations and their performances in actual matches) before 12 of the best players are chosen to travel to Manchester United for a week and to train alongside the Manchester United Academy team.
The on-ground execution of ‘Airtel Rising Stars’ has been entrusted to Procam International – India’s largest Sports marketing and Leisure Management company. In 2009, Bharti Airtel had announced its tie-up with Manchester United to bring a variety of benefits for Airtel’s football loving customers in India. As part of this association, Airtel customers across India have been enjoying exclusive access to Manchester United football content as well as money-can’t-buy match experiences. The ARS programme is an extension of this long term association between brand Airtel and Manchester United.
For participation in ARS and more information, interested footballers visit the Airtel Rising Star Facebook fan page (www.facebook.com/airtelsoccer).