Minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdullahi, has commended Airtel Africa, for creating a veritable channel for youth empowerment through the Airtel Rising Stars (ARS) Football programme.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of ARS Africa Championship in Lagos on Monday, the Minister congratulated Airtel for not only uniting Africa by hosting 16 countries, but also helping to shape the future of the continent to greater prosperity through the Football programme.
The Minister, who was represented by Yemi Idowu, Chairman of Nigeria Academicals Sports Committee (NASCOM), said the professional experience and networking opportunities that will be gained by the budding African stars through the championship will be evergreen in their memories as it will form the fulcrum on which their dreams shall be fulfilled.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Minister of Women Affairs, Zainab Maina, thanked the management of Airtel for designing the programme in such a way that talented girls are also offered equal opportunities to excel, saying it is the first of such gender balance programme in the continent.
She reiterated that her Ministry is committed to facilitating the speedy and healthy development of Nigerian Women in the main stream of the National Development process as well as ensuring the survival, protection, development and participation of all children in preparation for meaningful adult life.
Maina, who was represented by the Director of Women Rehabilitation, Mercy Daodu, said the federal government is also committed to building a society devoid of gender discrimination, ensuring equal access to wealth creation opportunities and creating a culture that places premium on the protection of the Child. According to her, they are also focusing attention of both public and private sector on issues that promote full participation of Women and Children in the National development process.
Some of the distinguished guests at the opening ceremony included the Chairman, Senate Committee on Sports, Adamu Gumba, his counterpart in the House of Representative, Godfrey Ali Gaiya and Sports Committee House Member, Ayo Omidiran.
Others were Edo State Commissioner of Youth, Sports and Social Mobilization, Omorede Osifo, Osun State Commissioner of Youth and Sports, Stephen Kola Balogun, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Women Affairs, Nike Animashaun, Vice President of Nigeria Football Federation, Mike Umeh and Vinai Venkatesham, Director of Global Partnership and Business Strategy of Arsenal Football Club.