The Airtel Rising Stars (ARS) Championships was awarded the Sponsorship PR Campaign of the Year 2012 trophy at the 12th Public relations Society of Kenya (PRSK) Awards event that was held at Safari Park Hotel.
The ARS initiative is an Africa-wide program that provides a platform for upcoming soccer talent under the age of seventeen to showcase their skills to leading scouts and coaches. The ARS program also gives them the opportunity to further their football skills. In Kenya, the Airtel Rising Stars initiative is a partnership with the Kenya Secondary School Sports Association (KSSSA) that targets boys and girls in secondary schools across the country.
In his statement, Airtel Kenya Managing Director Shivan Bhargava said, "We feel extremely excited and honored by the recognition of the Public Relations Society of Kenya. We are proud to sponsor the Airtel Rising Stars program which offers young players the unique opportunity to learn and showcase their sporting talent. Airtel will continue seeking initiatives that create positive community impact from the grassroots to the national level."
Hill+Knowlton Strategies, which was involved in the planning of the Airtel Rising Stars initiative (ARS) from start to finish, helped shape the tournament in a way that will render long term success. Speaking on the award, Alexander Doll, the Managing Director of Hill+Knowlton Strategies said: "This win is recognition that Public Relations counsel not only builds awareness, but also influences the design of a sports property that is sustainable. We thank Airtel for giving us the chance to apply our sports marketing capability."
The 2012 Airtel Rising Stars Pan African Championship generated a lot of excitement for both the players and fans alike with Kenya playing host to over 15 African nations. Over 600 players participated in the tournament which was graced by the legendary Manchester United goal keeper, Peter Schmeichel. The tournament ended with Ghana and Zambia winning the finals in the girls and boys categories respectively.
The championship saw the selection of over 50 boys and girls for the Manchester United Soccer clinic with Kenya being represented by three boys and three girls. Sammy Mejja (Kakamega High School), Daniel Mosoti, Chrispinus Onyango (Ofafa Jericho secondary school), Tatu Jomeka (Kilifi mixed secondary school), Melon Mulindi and Barbra Siprosa were all selected to attend the Manchester United Soccer clinic.
The partnership with Manchester United is part of a four year sponsorship that allows selected Airtel operations to tap into the football club's deep reservoir of technical resources and sports marketing expertise. The Manchester United soccer school will provide technical support during the football clinics planned at the end of the national and regional tournaments.
The ARS Championships were also recognized at the 2012 Sportsman of the Year (SOYA) Awards with different teams and individuals being nominated for the annual awards. Cheptil and Malava volleyball teams were nominated for their impressive results in the Secondary Schools games that saw the two teams win titles in national and East African levels. Talented Tartar Girls High school football captain Neddy Atieno joined the list of candidates for this year's Sports Personality of the Year Award (SOYA). Neddy captained the national Under20 team in the World Cup qualifiers and led her school to third place in the Airtel sponsored East African Secondary School Games in Burundi.