Eastern Region won the eighth edition of the Airtel Rising Stars (ARS) U-17 football tournament on Saturday, beating Kampala 3-2 on penalties after a goalless draw in front of a fair crowd at the Makerere University Business School (Mubs) grounds in Nakawa.
The easterners overcame a slow start, in which they were always at the danger of St Mary’s Nansana striker Jeremiah Jabera, who was constantly denied by outstanding goalie Ashraf Bwabye, a student of London College Nansana, to win the penalty shootout. Bwabye saved a penalty as Kampala missed two others to hand eastern their first national trophy.
Head coach Ronald Oundo, hailed his team’s resilience after a lucky escape from the groups which was characterised by a 3-1 loss to Kampala.
“We were even lucky to get out of the groups because West Nile had the upper hand yet when they lost to North East (2-0), we squeezed into the knockouts. We have been defending poor but I am happy that we revenged against Kampala,” the True Vine coach, said. Although eastern had the joint top scorer, Bashir Wandawa, the gong was awarded to Kampala’s Jabera, to deny them a clean sweep.
In the girls’ final, Kitara swept aside Eastern 2-0 with Mary Kabacurezi and Cissy Kabarwani scoring in either half. Eastern, who were rocked by a prize money distribution crisis ahead of the match, gave away the favourites tag with an inept performance.
But Kitara coach Rogers Ayesiga, who lined up a team of mainly Tooro Queens players, said they had prepared enough to defend their trophy.
He was building on last year’s triumphant side with only three new entrants; Sharon and Oliva Kanyeginya as well as Carol Kobugabe, making the cut.
Airtel awarded all regional winners a cash prize of Shs7m with the
runners-up getting Shs5m. 75 per cent is supposed to be given to the players and coaching staff while the rest is left for the region.