Saturday 01 June 2013
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During the Barclays Asia Trophy 2013, as well as the action on the pitch as Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Sunderland and South China battle it out at the Hong Kong Stadium, there will be plenty of activity off it as well.
The Premier League works with the British Council to run a unique coach and referee development project called Premier Skills, which is active in 20 countries worldwide. Premier Skills has had a huge impact in China in particular, using Premier League club coaches to train more than 500 school sport teachers to improve their football coaching ability.
During BAT 2013, coaches from the three participating Premier League clubs will be fronting a five-day coach programme for 48 male and female coaches from Hong Kong and South China. The plan is that the clubs will continue to work with these coaches through Premier Skills over the next 18 months, further developing their skills and creating a raft of new coach trainers who can pass on their skills to others.
"It was a very valuable opportunity to learn about professional and community football development"
The link with China was demonstrated last month as 28 head teachers from primary and secondary schools from across the country came to see the Premier League and its clubs, as part of a Chinese Football Association (CFA) visit to the UK to look at the positive impact that football can have on young people. The CFA are partners on Premier Skills in China and arranged for the delegation of teachers to visit the clubs and local schools affiliated with their sport and education programmes on a knowledge-sharing tour.
The head teachers are from schools participating in China's government-led "Football in Schools" initiative, which aims to promote football participation in schools and raise the awareness of the health and education benefits of sport to parents and teachers. Many of the schools involved in the visit have also had their PE teachers take part in a Premier Skills Coach Education programme in China, which has helped to train more than 500 individuals across the country.
After visiting the Premier League to meet staff in charge of operating the player development education programme and Premier League community initiatives, the group split into two and visited the Community and Academy departments of West Ham United and Everton to learn more about their work.
At West Ham, as well as visiting the club's stadium and training ground at Chadwell Heath, the head teachers learnt about West Ham's "Learning Zone" education centre, which helps to raise educational standards through out-of-school activities for children and adults in East London.
Local schools St Edwards Catholic Primary, Carpenters Primary and Robert Clack School of Science explained about the benefits of linking with the club, showcasing practical and classroom sessions delivered by the Club Coaches. Students at Kingsford Community School also had the chance to practise the Mandarin they had learnt at the school on the delegates.
"We hope to highlight the many positive benefits of high-quality sports education for children"
In Liverpool, the second group saw how Everton in the Community team and their academy counterparts delivered their educational programmes, with Springwood Heath Primary School, Childwall Sports and Science Academy and Wade Deacon High School explaining how they work with the club. The delegation also visited Everton Free School, the first Free School opened by a Premier League team, which focuses on re-engaging young people between the ages of 14-19 with education through an alternative form of learning.
"We really appreciated the effort of the British Council and our Premier League colleagues in creating such a comprehensive knowledge sharing programme for us," Lu Yu, CFA Director of Youth & Grassroots Football Development, said. "The visit was a very valuable opportunity for us to learn from your successful practice on professional and community football development and your experience in using football to help youth development in the community.
"The Premier Skills programme has helped grassroots coaches improve their football education and training capability, which has brought a positive impact to a 100,000 primary and secondary students through Premier Skills-trained PE teachers."
Premier League General Secretary Nic Coward added: "We have a strong partnership with the CFA, who have shown great support for the development of our flagship international development programme Premier Skills in China.
"By arranging this knowledge sharing visit, we hope to further support the CFA's aim to promote football in schools and highlight the many positive benefits of high-quality sports education for children."