Bangalore, September 11, 2012: Airtel Rising Stars, an initiative launched by Bharti Airtel to provide young talented footballers the chance-of-a-lifetime to train at the Manchester United Soccer Schools, today announced the final 52 (including 4 goalkeepers) who will undergo a five day camp in Bangalore. The camp, overseen by Manchester United coaches, will choose 12 footballers who will travel and train at the prestigious school in England in November this year. The final 52 will also get handy tips and nuances from Manchester United Football Legend and former England football captain Bryan Robson.
‘Airtel Rising Stars’, India’s largest under-16 soccer talent hunt, in association with Manchester United, galvanized in excess of 20,000 young footballers across 16 centers, who attended the selection trials. The final 52 shortlisted players for the camp will be put through their paces by four Manchester United coaches, Michael McClean, Mick Bennett, Andrew Cunningham and Kevin O’Connell.
Bharat Bambawale, Global Brand Director, Bharti Airtel, talking at the culmination of the campaign said, “Airtel as a brand continues to associate with sports that appeal to discerning and contemporary urban youth audience of today. Soccer as a sport has a cult following worldwide, and the same fervor and excitement towards this game is evident in India. The ‘Airtel Rising Stars’ is in continuance to our brand philosophy of connecting the youth with our core message of teamwork and friendship”.
He further added “This is a great opportunity for these young footballers to bring alive their dream to train at one of the most prestigious and respected soccer institution- Manchester United Soccer School. We are pleased with the success of this seasons’ ARS that saw participation in excess of 20,000 talented footballers, making it the largest soccer talent activation in the country. Airtel is proud to provide these young rising stars of India a global platform to showcase their talent.”
Former England football & The Manchester United Legend Bryan Robson said, “India is a big potential market for soccer and with 35 million Manchester United followers, the country is one of the fastest growing fan bases for the club. With ‘Airtel Rising Stars’, which is one of the biggest soccer talent hunt in the country, these young footballers will gain exposure and training at the biggest soccer club in the world. Not only will this be a first step for these young talents but also a big step up in developing soccer talent in India.”
In the final camp, 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. The five day camp will be a culmination to the three month long talent hunt that was conducted in 16 cities with the support of the respective state and district associations.
The Airtel Rising Stars was launched on June 26 by Sanjay Kapoor, CEO, India and South Asia Bharti Airtel and Bharat Bambawale – Global Brand Director, Bharti Airtel in the presence of another Manchester United Legend, Dwight Yorke. The capital city set the trend of the overwhelming response to the program, with a whopping 3510 footballers turning up for auditions. The second best in terms of numbers was Mumbai, with 2614 players, while footballers from other centers too responded in champion fashion to make the most of this unique platform.
The on-ground execution of ‘Airtel Rising Stars’ has been entrusted to Procam International – India’s largest Sports marketing and Leisure Management company.
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 programme is an extension of this long term association between brand Airtel and Manchester United.