Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Airtel in football: Airtel Rising Stars endeavor to bring alive young India’s soccer dreams

Bharti Airtel, a leading global telecommunications company with operations in 20 countries across Asia and Africa, today announced the kick off of ‘Airtel Rising Stars’ (ARS) – India’s largest under-16 soccer talent hunt. Launched in association with Manchester United (one of the best soccer clubs in the world), ARS 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. 

Airtel Rising Stars is India’s largest under-16 soccer talent hunt which will give 12 promising youngsters the chance-of-a-lifetime to train with Manchester United Soccer School and kick-off a career in professional football.

This announcement was made in a press conference held in the presence of Manchester United football legend Dwight Yorke, Sanjay Kapoor (CEO – India & South Asia, Bharti Airtel) 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, Bangalore, Calicut, Chandigarh and Jaipur) with the support of the respective State and District Football Associations. 

Sunil Chhetri, ace footballer and ARS brand ambassador along with
Dwight Yorke, Manchester United

Starting mid-July 2012, this 3-month long talent hunt will involve participation from over 10,000 young soccer players across 16 cities in India and hand-pick the best performers in skill tests, real time match simulations, and week-long coaching clinics with Manchester United Soccer School coaches.

"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 ARS 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 ARS as an exciting strategic step towards strengthening our brand positioning and appeal to the youth”, said Sanjay Kapoor of Airtel.

Manchester United’s Commercial Director, Richard Arnold said; “We are very pleased to associate with the ARS program 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 program 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 ARS 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 of the 16 cities will then be picked to attend a final six-day camp-cum-selection trialconducted 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.

For participation in ARS and more information, visit www.facebook.come/airtelsoccer.

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 program is an extension of this long term association between brand Airtel and Manchester United.