Arsenal’s mobile network operator in Africa launched its pan-African football competition on Monday in Nairobi, Kenya.

Kenya’s Prime Minister, The Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga was accompanied by the tournament sponsors, Airtel Africa, led by Manoj Kohli, the international CEO and joint MD for Bharti Airtel.

The party was joined by Arsenal’s marketing director Angus Kinnear, who presented the Prime Minister, an ardent Gunners fan, with an Arsenal shirt (see above picture).

The tournament, the Airtel Africa Championships, is the largest youth-focused grassroots football initiative across the continent and brings together Africa’s best talent with boys and girls under 17 competing from Tuesday, August 21 to Saturday, August 25.

The championship is the culmination of regional and national tournaments in 15 countries across the continent, and part of the Airtel Rising Stars programme, a football talent initiative that is focused on identifying and nurturing talent from grassroots onto a national stage.

Having attracted approximately 18,000 youth teams and 324,000 youths through the regional stages, the finals will lead into specialised Airtel Rising Soccer Clinics run by qualified coaches from Arsenal Soccer Schools and attended by club legend Ray Parlour.

In the opening fixtures, the hosts Kenya whitewashed Malawi 11-0 in the girls’ tournament opener with Vivian Adhiambo scoring five goals in the rout. In the boys’ opener, Malawi beat Kenya 5-1 to lead Group B. The other teams in the group are Madagascar and Ghana.

Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 21 Aug 2012