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Monday, August 03, 2015

Benue boys, Plateau girls emerge in U-17 Airtel Rising Stars




The season five of the Under-17 Airtel Rising Stars (ARS) football tournament at the weekend saw the male team from Benue State and female counterpart from Plateau State emerging winners of the Abuja Regional Championship, reports ITRealms.

This means that both teams which emerged at the Old Parade Ground in Abuja, ITRealms reports would now represent the North Region at the national finals holding in Lagos.

The Abuja tournament which kicked off on Thursday 30th of July came to a successful conclusion on Saturday 1st August at the Old Parade Ground, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.


In the final matches of both male and female categories, the Benue boys defeated their Nasarawa counterparts by 3 goals to nil, while the Plateau State girls beat their Kaduna counterparts 7 – 6 through penalties after a gruelling encounter that ended goalless.


In the third place matches, the boys from Kaduna defeated team FCT by 2 goals to 1, whilst the Abuja girls clinched the third place medals at a match that was also decided by penalties where they beat the girls from Kano by 4 goals to 1.  


A huge crowd of soccer loving youths defied the early morning showers to be at the venue to watch the final matches. The highly elated winners celebrated joyously as the trophies were presented to them by Airtel’s Regional Operations Director, North, Wole Abu who was in company of the Zonal Business Manager, North Central, Lynda Umeh; Regional Trade Marketing Manager, North, Nasihu Abdulmajid and ex-Super Eagles International and technical adviser in the ARS 5, Garba Lawal.


Speaking shortly after presenting the medals and trophies to the teams, Mr. Abu noted that the Telco remains committed to its laudable contribution towards the development of youths and sport in Nigeria and has been consistent in supporting football talents to achieve their potentials.


“From Season 1 to the current Season 5, we have seen improvement in terms of organisation and officiating. Airtel Nigeria is convinced that this platform will continue to discover and produce football talents that will move on to professional football as we have seen from the testimonies of those that have been discovered. Airtel is interested in the success of youths in Nigeria,” he noted.  


Coach of the Benue State Team, Ernest Patrick, was full of delight at the victory of his team and expressed readiness to represent the North in the National Finals. “We feel proud and excited to have seen the result of our efforts. We worked hard but we will also work on our lapses. We played a good game and the other teams played well too. By God’s grace we will lift the trophy in Lagos. More is expected of us as we move to the National finals. We hope to make impact and win the competition.”


Salisu Nakande, Coach of the Plateau girls, who was a member of the Golden Eaglets squad to China ’85, said the victory at the regional championship is not new to him, but the task is for the team to lift the trophy at the national finals in Lagos.


“I am used to the terrain and I am not new to the National Finals. In the Airtel Rising Star Season 4, my boys made it to the finals but we lost to Kwara State. This time around, I foresee a very strong final and we will work hard to put in our best so we can win the National Finals in Lagos,” he said.


Meanwhile, four outstanding players were identified and honoured during the Abuja Regional Finals.

Rita Sunday, who plays for Plateau, won the Female Highest Goals Scorer award with a total of 6 goals, while Stephen Friday of Team Abuja won the Male Highest Goals Scorer award with total of 3 goals. The female Most Valuable Player award went to the skilful 15 year old Chinwe Akabike of Kaduna girls, while the male Most Valuable Player award went to Sanusi Usman,16, who plays for Benue State.


The next leg of the Regional Championship will be played in Port Harcourt at Liberation Stadium, PH between the 6th and 8th August. Thereafter, Lagos will host the last leg of regional championship at Legacy Pitch, National Stadium, Surulere, starting from 14th to 16th of August 2015. 

 

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Pix: L-R, Airtel’s Regional Operations Director, North, Wole Abu; Benue State Team Captain, Sunday Ugor; Zonal Business Manager, North Central, Lynda Umeh with ex-Super Eagles International and Technical Adviser in the ARS Season 5, Garba Lawal during the presentation of trophy to Benue State male team after emerging winner in the Abuja Regional Championship on Saturday.

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