Arsenal legend and former France international, Robert Emmanuel Pires, will lead a team of Arsenal technical and business staff to the African Championship of the Airtel Rising Stars (ARS) which kicks off on Monday, September 16 in Lagos.
The World Cup winner with France is expected to jet into the country on Saturday, September 21, 2013 to participate in the activities marking the finals of the championship.
Pires’ visit comes under the partnership between Arsenal Football Club of England and the Airtel Africa Group.
The Legend was a key member of “The Invincibles”; the all-conquering Arsenal team that went 49 games without a loss in the 2003/2004. Legendary Nigerian international, Kanu Nwankwo was also a member of “The Invincibles.”
He had an illustrious Arsenal career and was voted the 6th greatest player in the history of Arsenal FC during which he won three FA cups and two Premier League titles. He also won the 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2000 with the French national team with which he was capped 79 times.
While in the country, the ex-Arsenal mid-fielder is expected to enliven the atmosphere at the finals of the Airtel Under-17 Championship and stand as an inspiration to the youngsters vying for laurels in the final games.
He is also billed to visit Oremeji Primary School 2, one of Airtel’s adopted schools in Lagos as part of its CSR initiative, Adopt-A-School programme which primarily aims to provide access to quality foundational education in remote locations of the country where standard educational facilities and quality faculties are not easily available.
The coming competition which is the season 2 of the ARS African Championship initiative involving over 18,000 boys and girls representing 16 African countries including hosts Nigeria. It will run for a period of seven days beginning with an opening ceremony on Monday, September 16 at the Ikeja Township Stadium, Agege, Lagos.
Each participating country’s team emerged after a rigorous championship that took them through the regions to national contests coordinated by seasoned soccer coaches and the football federation of the various countries.
Airtel Rising Stars Africa Football Championship is Africa’s biggest Under-17 grassroots tournament and the only one with strong consideration for gender equality with the inclusion of the Female Category. The eventual winners in both the male and female categories will receive the grand prize of $10,000 each.