18,000 schools are participating in the tourney

The Airtel Pan Africa soccer championship officially kicked-off on Tuesday in Nairobi, Kenya, with 18,000 schools and 324,000 girls and boys participating.

The tourney, which is the culmination of several months of rallying Africa?s best talents in the boys and girls U-17 categories, will run from August 21 to August 25.

The championship is a sequel to the Airtel Rising Stars programme, a soccer talent initiative focused on identifying and nurturing soccer talents from the grassroots into the national stages.

The programme broke new grounds by introducing the girls arm into the pan-African tournament.

The Airtel Africa Championships were officially opened by Kenya?s Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, accompanied by the tourney sponsors, Airtel Africa, led by Manoj Kohli, CEO (International) and joint Managing Director, Bharti Airtel.

The championships will herald the unveiling of two specialised Airtel Rising Soccer Clinics run by soccer coaches from the Manchester United FC and Arsenal FC Soccer Schools.

Present at the inauguration of the Championships were officials from both clubs ? Jonathan Rigby, Marketing Director, Manchester Utd., and Angus Kinnear, Marketing Director, Arsenal FC.

The two clinics will be attended by two of the club?s legends, Peter Schmeichel and Ray Parlour.

In the opening fixtures, the hosts, Kenya, defeated Malawi in the Girls’ tournament opener, 11-0, with Vivian Adhiambo scoring five goals in the rout.

In the boys’ opener, Malawi beat Kenya 5-1 to lead Group B. Other teams in the group are Madagascar and Ghana.

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