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Monday 18 March 2013

Creating Chances: Premier Skills driving global aid

Before launch of Creating Chances report, Premier League's work in communities and beyond is reviewed

Botswana is one of the many countries to benefit from Premier Skills programmes

Ahead of the launch of the latest Creating Chances report on Thursday 21 March, looks at how the Premier League’s global reach has delivered and support a wide variety of initiatives around the world.

The Premier League is broadcast in 212 territories and billions of fans are now familiar with the clubs, coaches and players that grace the competition. By utilising and harnessing that excitement and knowledge of the League, internationally-focused Creating Chances projects have been making a huge difference to the lives of thousands of people across the globe.

The Premier League’s international commitment is based around long-term development and assistance; on the one hand using the expertise of Premier League club personnel to run and support overseas projects that train new community-focused coaches and referees, whilst also supporting other organisations that are working internationally using sport as a tool for development, and providing opportunities to people to develop and learn their English language skills.

"Given our popularity and success internationally we felt it only right to take this approach to a wider community"
Richard Scudamore

The lead Creating Chances International project is Premier Skills, a partnership with the British Council which has been in operation for the last six years and now works in 20 countries as diverse as Brazil, Botswana, India and Vietnam.

As Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore explained: "At home the Premier League and our Clubs have a long-held commitment and reputation for delivering high-quality community and education programmes. Given our popularity and success internationally we felt it only right to take this approach to a wider community."

The initiative works in three phases, where grassroots coaches are trained by Premier League coaches so that they, in turn, have the possibility of running coaching courses of their own and passing on their expertise to others, particularly young people, in their local community.

Premier Skills has fired the imagination of a number of former professional players, who have been keen to use their experiences to help the development of others. Former Wimbledon and Newcastle United defender Warren Barton, former Newcastle defender Steve Howey and ex-Wimbledon striker Robbie Earle, all UEFA-qualified coaches, have become Premier Skills head coaches, while former Crystal Palace striker Mark Bright assisted on a recent programme in China last year.

For the last three years, the training of referees and assistants has been added to the Premier Skills programme. The courses run alongside the main Premier Skills sessions and have been led by former Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) General Manager and FIFA referee Keith Hackett, assisted by other former referees such as Alan Wiley and Steve Dunn. Participants are schooled by PGMOL coaches on a three-day course and there are plans for this scheme to be extended so that the best of these new referees can then train officials themselves.

The work of Premier Skills spreads far and wide and in Indonesia, Brazil and India, projects are running that use the successful Kickz model (a partnership between the Premier League and the police) to engage young people through football in areas of particular deprivation.

Coaches in Tunisia going through Level 3 training through Premier Skills

Premier Skills does not just deliver change on the pitch, it also is making a difference in the classroom.

On the Premier Skills website, a host of resources are available for teachers and learners to use to help them develop their English language skills. There are a range of items such as lesson plans, projects and worksheets that use the interest and draw of football to assist in the teaching of writing, vocabulary and grammar.

Premier Skills has already delivered tremendous impact in 20 countries across Asia, Africa and the Americas. Since 2007 it has created training opportunities benefitting 2,300 grassroots coaches and referees who, in turn, have reached more than 400,000 young people.

"Our work around the world with the Premier League brings English, inspiration and practical skills to young people's lives"
John Worne

Under the programme 6,000 teachers have received face-to-face training in the use of the Premier Skills English materials, applying these in the classroom to reach thousands of pupils. In addition there have been 3.5 million views of the English materials online.

"Our work around the world with the Premier League brings English, inspiration and practical skills to young people's lives," said John Worne, the British Council's Director of Strategy.

The Premier League’s international work also extends to the International Small Grants Fund, which started in 2007 and gives support and backing to charities and non-profit organisations that use sport as a tool for development.

Grants are limited to £15,000 per project and more than 25 diverse initiatives have received funding from the ISGF, many of which have used the funding to set up football projects that tackle the issue of HIV/AIDS. One of the charities to have benefited is Tackle Africa, a project that uses football to teach youngsters about HIV and sexual health with the information passed on through integrated football coaching and drills.

In 2009, Tackle Africa received £11,5000 from the Premier League and the funding has played a key role in helping the scheme, which again uses the "training the trainer" model, get to a point where now in Nairobi, Kenya, training is set to be rolled out to 1,200 new coaches.

The Premier League has also teamed up with Comic Relief over the last six years to support two development projects in Africa. The first partnership is with UK charity Motivation, which provides opportunities for disabled children to take part in sport in Uganda, thereby improving their confidence and health. The second is with Grassroot Soccer which uses football-themed interactive sessions to educate teenagers in South Africa and Zimbabwe about HIV.

 Hundreds of thousands of people have benefitted from the projects operating abroad to highlight why the international section of the Premier League’s off-pitch work is such a vital part of the Creating Chances programme.

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Key Points

  • The latest Creating Chances report will be launched soon
  • looks at the five pillars that have been the base of the Premier League's work
  • In the fourth feature, the League's initiatives around the world are looked at as the power of football used to improve people's lives