“I come from the West Indies, a country that plays cricket, and though I myself am a keen cricketer and follow the game closely, my love was football. If I could make it to the world stage, I don’t see any reason why a player from India shouldn’t be playing on the same stage in the near future,” said Dwight Yorke, the international ambassador of the Airtel Rising Stars, a unique under-16 football talent hunt, promoted by Airtel in association with Manchester United.
The Airtel Rising Stars will travel to 16 cities, and with support of the schools, district and state associations will reach out to an average of 800 talented footballers per city. After two-day trails three of the best players per city will be picked to attend a 6-day selection trial in Bangalore, which will be conducted by coaches from the Manchester United Academy. The Mumbai leg of the Airtel Rising Stars will be held on August 4 and 5.
The final 48 players will be divided into four teams of 12 each and will be tested for physical attributes and fitness, individual skills, match situations and their performances in actual matches before 12 of the best players will be chosen to travel to Manchester United for a week to train alongside the Manchester United Academy team.
Airtel Rising Stars is being conducted concurrently in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka too.
“I got my first taste of organised football when I attended a coaching clinic back home and developed my skills from there. The Airtel Rising Stars is a similar platform that should help inspire talented footballers to believe in themselves and work hard enough to reach the highest level.”
On what the selected 12 can expect when they travel to Manchester United, Yorke said, “It’s something that can’t be explained but has to experienced. When I first went there at the age of 26 I felt like a kid, so it will indeed be incredible for a 16-year-old. Just visiting the training facilities, that are the best in the world, will be enough to make their hair stand on end. Add to this the opportunity of meeting some of the current players, getting autographs, posing for the pictures with them and actually visiting Old Trafford, and the experience will definitely be something one only dreams about,” said Yorke in conclusion.