Rays of Grace Academy are proving to be an emerging football power house. The side from Njeru in Buikwe defended the Buganda region Airtel Rising Stars (ARS) Boys title after a 2-0 win over Five Stars –Entebe in the final at the Bukalasa Agricultural Institute, Luwero on Sunday.
Mubarak Mitala and Rashid Mugisha goals enabled Rays of Grace to retain the title they won last year after, through Issa Magembe’s hat trick, beat Mpigi mixed 3-0 on the final in Masaka.
In the Girls category, Kayindu Secondary School endured 4-3 penalty win against Tagy High school following a 1-1 draw to dethrone last year’s winners Devine soccer stars from Masaka.
Kamiyat Naigaga gave Tagy High lead at the stroke of halftime but her effort was cancelled out by Sarah Babirye after break.
In the shootout, Kayindu goalkeeper Saidat Namwanje saved Naigaga and Shakiraha Lulaba kicks to inspire her side to a memorable victory.
Buganda region chairman Andy Kaweesa applauded Airtel for this programme that gives players below the age of 17 years chance to showcase their talents.
On behalf of Airtel-Uganda, the Regional Business Manager Simon Byamukama said that the company will continue supporting sports activities in the country.
Chrispus Kalibala, an Executive Member represented FUFA at the three-day exciting and competitive Buganda region ARS finals.
After two regional qualification championships, only Rays of Grace has defended the regional title.
Last year’s Buganda Girls winners Devine soccer stars failed to defend their title while Kawempe Muslim SS grabbed both the Boys and Girls titles from the 2018 Kampala region winners.
The 2019 ARS regional winners take Shs1.5m cash prize while the runners are given Shs1m on top of sets of jerseys.
Airtel-Uganda also gives out football equipment from five schools found in the region to further develop the game of football while individual best performers also have prizes at stake.
After Kampala and Buganda, the ARS regional qualifiers head to the North East and Eastern region on August 9-11 in Soroti while Northern and West Nile region will hold theirs on August 16-18 in Lira.
Kitara and Western region will hold their qualifiers on August 28-30 in Masindi before the national quarter and semi finals are played in Kampala on September 4-6.
The finals will be held in Kampala on September 7 where the national winners have Shs7m at the stake while the runners up will take Shs5m.
Buganda region qualifiers
Boys Champions: Rays of Grace
Runners up: Five Stars
MVP: Mubarak Mitala (Rays of Grace)
Top scorer: Mubarak Mitala (Rays of Grace, 5 goals)
Best goal keeper: Eliton Ssebowa (Five Stars)
Champions: Kayindu SS
Runners up: Tagy High
MVP: Sarah Babirye (Kayindu )
Top Scorer: Halima Nakampe (Tagy High, 6 goals)
Best goalkeeper: Saidat Namwanje