The on-ground execution of Airtel Rising Stars has been entrusted to Procam International. Starting mid-July, the three-month long talent hunt will involve participation from over 10,000 young soccer players across 16 cities in India. The Airtel Rising Stars programme is an extension of Airtel's 2009 tie-up with Manchester United.
Aspiring soccer players can register through Facebook or their schools. The program will ensure that every player gets an equal opportunity to showcase his skills and plays through a series of selection criteria overseen by renowned and officially certified coaches in each centre. Players will be selected based on parameters like physical attributes, individual skills, techniques and match performances.
The players will then be divided into groups of 12. 120 players will be shortlisted from these groups, who will then be assigned to 10 teams of 12 players each. They will be put through various skill and fitness tests, after which it will all come down to just three of them to move on to the next stage.
The three best players from each of the 16 cities will attend a final six-day camp-cum-selection trial conducted by coaches from Manchester United. These 48 players will be divided into four teams of 12 each and will be tested in all aspects. This conditioning camp will also include diet and nutrition sessions and a special motivational session by Sunil Chhetri. 12 boys will then be identified and sent to the Manchester Soccer School for seven days.
The talent hunt will be held in Delhi and Lucknow on July 14, Jaipur and Shillong on July 21, Ahmedabad and Kolkata on July 28, Mumbai and Hyderabad on Aug. 4, Chennai and Pune on Aug. 11, Kochi and Goa on Aug. 18, Bangalore and Calicut on Aug. 25, and Chandigarh and Guwahati on Sept. 1.
Commenting on the launch of Airtel Rising Stars, Sanjay Kapoor said: "From 1.6 billions fans in the world, millions in the Indian subcontinent closely follow the game and aspire to play alongside professional soccer players. Given the mass appeal of football and a large youth population, we are uniquely positioned to tap and nurture young soccer talent. Aimed at recognizing and training such talent, we are today excited to launch ARS as a hunt for the best under-16 soccer players across India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. As a game, soccer represents the principles of team-play and friendship - thus making it a perfect fit for brand Airtel. We see ARS as an exciting strategic step towards strengthening our brand positioning and appeal to the youth."
Talking about Manchester United's association with the soccer talent hunt, Richard Arnold, Commercial Director, Manchester United said: "We are very pleased to associate with the ARS programme in India and look forward to working closely with a number of extremely talented players. With 35 million Manchester United followers, India is one of our fastest growing fan bases and I have no doubt that we will see equally talented individuals in this country too. The programme is one of the largest of its kind in India and it is a great opportunity for us to work with these talented players in order to coach them on how to play the Manchester United way."