Sunday 30 December 2012
Reading Football Club are pioneering a community campaign in the Sultanate of Oman, in partnership with UK Company Kickworldwide and the Oman Football Association.
Reading are the partner club for the unique Kickworldwide Outreach Programme, a project being piloted in Oman before being rolled out in other countries within the Middle East.
"It is refreshing to work with a club that, despite its recent on-field success, is still dedicated to playing an important and genuine role in the community"
The Outreach Programme visits a different primary school every day for five days a week, 36 weeks of the year, giving presentations to children aged between six and 12 to educate them about the importance of teamwork, being friendly and caring in the community, eating healthily and getting regular exercise.
The presentations, which are attended by on average 200 children at a time, make the most of the appeal of Reading as well as former footballers, who tackle the importance of road safety, which is a big issue in the Middle East, and warn against the dangers of alcohol, smoking and drugs.
Each child receives a 44-page booklet in Arabic and English to reinforce the messages and inform parents about the visit made by the club and the Kickworldwide team. The booklet also includes information about Reading and encourages the children to become supporters of the Barclays Premier League club.
The programme is being funded by a quartet of companies in the Sultanate: Nawras, Orpic, Sohar Aluminium and Vale.
Nigel Howe, the CEO of Reading, joined director Chris Samuelson at one of the presentations last month in the northern city of Majees in Oman, where he presented scarves and badges to some of the children. The pair were also special guests of the Oman Football Association at the FIFA World Cup qualifier between Oman and Japan, which the visitors edged 2-1.
The Outreach Programme will soon move to the next stage where it will develop hundreds of young leaders in Omani secondary schools. These 13-16 year-olds will be educated on a specially converted British double-decker bus bearing the club's logo, and will be given the opportunity to complete coaching and refereeing courses.
Some participants will be offered scholarships in other sports-related courses at Kickworldwide’s Institute in the capital Muscat, while others may also be granted the opportunity to continue their studies in the UK and watch Reading in action.
"Having an English Barclays Premier League club like Reading on board makes a huge difference to this programme," said Kickworldwide director Steve Bellis. "It is refreshing to work with a club that, despite its recent on-field success, is still dedicated to playing an important and genuine role in the community, both in the UK and in overseas markets like the Middle East."
"To be given the opportunity to meet people from a Barclays Premier League club is great for our young people"
Sheikh Hazzaa Al Saadi
Howe added: “Being a Barclays Premier League club gives us a fantastic opportunity to build on the already outstanding community work we carry out in the UK – and of course to raise our profile abroad.
"We now have the chance to reach out around the globe, and this trip proved how much passion there is for football in the Middle East. The children responded brilliantly to the programme and from what we saw it will continue to be a success in the future."
Sheikh Hazzaa Al Saadi, the general secretary of the Oman FA was also delighted by Reading’s decision to support the Outreach Programme. “Everyone in the Middle East knows the Premier League and here in Oman we have thousands of young football supporters following the games on television," he said. “To be given the opportunity to meet people from a Barclays Premier League club and have daily interaction with the Royals brand is great for our young people."