Rufai, Others Ready For ARS Season 4 National Finals
ARS Technical Adviser, Peter Rufai; Airtel Regional Operations Director, Lagos, Femi Oshinlaja; Olympic gold medalist and ARS Technical Adviser, Chioma Ajunwa-Oparah; Airtel Vice President, Brand and Marketing, Obinna Aniche; National Secretary, YSFON, Patrick Okpavuerhe and ex-Super Falcons goalie and Technical Adviser, Ann Chiejinne at the match fixtures draw for ARS 4 National Finals in Lagos on Friday 25 July
The trio of former Nigerian internationals Peter Rufai, Ann Chiejine and Chioma Ajunwa-Oparah have said that they are looking forward to the national finals of Airtel Rising Stars (ARS) Season 4 U-17 Soccer Championship which hold in Lagos from July 30-2 August.
The four-day national finals, which are scheduled for Sports Complex of the Yaba College of Technology (YabaTech) will see finalists in the both male and female categories from the five zones (Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Ilorin and Enugu) jostling for the ultimate prizes and tickets to represent Nigeria at the African championship in Gabon in August.
The ex-internationals, who were appointed by telecommunication company, Airtel Nigeria as technical advisers to mentor the youth players in the ARS Season 4, said during the draws for the national finals on Friday in Lagos that having been part of the rigours of the screening and the competitions that produced zonal winners, they can’t wait to see these young lads display their football artistry at the national finals.
“It was difficult selecting players at the Lagos zone and I believe this same was applicable in other four zones across the country. It was quite an interesting exercise because Nigeria is blessed with a lot of talents at the grassroots. I think the national finals will be tough,” said Rufai, former Super Eagles’ goalkeeper.
Both Chiejine and Ajunwa-Oparah corroborated Rufai’s optimism. To Chiejine, former Super Falcons’ goalie, the products of ARS Season 4 are players of real under 17 age, while Ajunwa-Oparah said that she was overwhelmed with the turnout of the youth during the screening exercise.
“I have the confidence that the winners in the national finals in both the boys and girls categories will represent Nigeria well at the African championship,” said Ajunwa, the Atlanta ’96 gold medal winner in the long jump event.
The Female Team Lagos and Male Team Oyo are representing Lagos zone at the national finals, while Kwara zone is represented by the boys and girls of Team Kwara.
Enugu Zone will be represented by White Chiefs FC (male category) and White Princesses FC (female category), while the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) boys team and Plateau State girls team will fly the flag of Abuja zone. Port Harcourt Team is representing Port Harcourt in both the male and female categories.
The national finals will be played on round robin format with four teams qualifying for the semi finals after which the third place and the finals will be decided.
The draws, which was witnessed by officials of the Youth Sports Federation of Nigeria, (YSFON), Airtel officials, the media and coaches of the participating teams, saw winners in the male category in Ilorin (Team A) taking on
Abuja winners (Team B), Enugu (Team C) versus Port Harcourt (Team D), while Lagos (Team E) are on standby.
In the girls category, Enugu (Team A) will play Lagos (Team B), Abuja (Team C) trade tackles with Port Harcourt (Team D) while Ilorin (Team E) will be on standby.
The Airtel Rising Stars U-17 Tourney, a unique pan African initiative of Airtel Africa, is designed to provide support for the development of football talents across Nigeria. It aims at discovering talented students (male and female) of secondary school age and providing them the opportunity to gain football skills and develop into renowned stars.
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