Nigerian grassroots football coach Chinasa Ukandu has emerged winner of the 2019 Future Stars Coaching Programme organised by Online money transfer company WorldRemit and Arsenal FC.
Ukandu alongside Colombian Luis Alejandro Castañeda who won in the men’s category will now prepare to travel to London for a personalised training session with Arsenal Football Development coaches, and their trip will be sponsored by WorldRemit.
The two youth coaches were among eight finalists, four women and four men, who were selected by a panel of judges from WorldRemit and Arsenal for their commitment to using football to empower young people and benefit their communities.
They emerged as the winners following a public vote on www.FutureStars.WorldRemit.com.
Almost 40,000 votes were cast in less than three weeks – Chinasa received the highest number among the female coaches and Luis received the highest number among the male finalists.
Ukandu coaches boys and girls aged 5 to 16. Together with her friends, she helps provide young people with an opportunity to develop football and life skills at Help The Talent Academy in Lagos State. She has also completed phase three of the Premier Skills Coach Educators Course (an initiative by the English Premier League and British Council) in 2015.
Speaking on her win she said: “I’m so excited to win the training session in London and can’t wait to meet the Arsenal Football Development coaches. I love a challenge and will use this global coaching opportunity to take new skills back to Nigeria and give back to my community.”
Castañeda is a volunteer coach for a blind boys’ football team from Bogotá and the surrounding area. The team was set up by his father, who is blind, 20 years ago to help young people develop their mobility and independence.
He said: “I’m so grateful to WorldRemit and Arsenal for this opportunity. I’ve always dreamed of travelling to London and will use the experience of training with Arsenal Football Development to help develop and raise awareness of Paralympic sport in Colombia and even globally.”
Andrew Stewart, Managing Director Middle East & Africa at WorldRemit said: “At WorldRemit, we are inspired every day by our customers, who work hard to send money home to support their communities.
“Through our partnership with Arsenal and the Future Stars programme, we are delighted to celebrate the stories of inspiring individuals such as Chinasa and Luis, who use sport to make a difference to the lives of the young people they train. Congratulations to the winners and our team looks forward to welcoming you to London!”
Simon McManus, Head Coach at Arsenal Football Development, said: “Through our programmes in London and across the globe, our Football Development coaches are dedicated to helping set young players up for success both on and off the pitch.
“The Future Stars winners’ work within their communities shows just how powerful football can be and the importance of promoting diversity within the sport. We are excited to meet Chinasa and Luis and support them in amplifying their contributions to grassroots football in Nigeria and Colombia even further.”
The Future Stars programme was developed by WorldRemit and Arsenal to celebrate the positive impact that grassroots youth football coaches have on their communities, helping the children they train to develop life skills both on and off the pitch.
Now in its second edition, the Future Stars programme received over 1,400 applications this year from across Africa and the Americas.