AIRTEL Networks Zambia and the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) yesterday signed a Talent Search memorandum of understanding (MoU) worth more than K4 million.
At a signing ceremony, Airtel marketing director Sekou Barry said the Talent Search programme was to help identify and develop young footballers that will become the rising stars of the game and future players of the Zambia national soccer team.
Barry said the programme would run from this month to March next year and will give FAZ an opportunity to have a wider base of selecting female and male players for the under-17 teams.
“This programme is the culmination of district and provincial tournaments in 10 provinces of Zambia. The programme is part of the Airtel Rising Stars plan (ARS), a soccer talent initiative that is focused on identifying and nurturing soccer talent from the grassroots onto a national stage,
“Described as the biggest tournament in the country, the championships attracted a number of youth across the country in 2014,
“The stature of the Airtel Rising Stars is growing with each season primarily due to the array of talent that we are spotting from various provinces countrywide . This will allow a child in the interior area to prove his or her talent,” he said.
Meanwhile, FAZ president Kalusha Bwalya said Airtel has been instrumental in helping the football body identify talent in impossible places.
Kalusha said most of the under 17 women and men’s teams were ARS products.
“The many talents that we have in our U17 and U20 teams for boys and girls as well as the bedrock of success on which our Olympic team is founded are deep rooted in the success of the ARS,
“That’s just but one demonstration of how important this programme is. It is therefore exciting to imagine the impact that a remodelled ARS will have on our schools, communities and junior and youth teams.
Kalusha said the challenge for this year was for the players across the country to seize the available opportunities and be that ‘stand-out talent’.
He said that FAZ would seize the opportunity of this year’s schedule to continue engaging with its members and councillors who it would be putting through the paces of football administration and management introductory courses.