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Monday 02 December 2013

New Premier Skills programme pushes growth in China

More than 1 million youngsters set to benefit from expanded community coaching

Premier Skills celebrated the fifth anniversary of its work in China with a showcase event in Beijing today and the announcement of new partnership with the Chinese Ministry of Education that aims to reach more than one million youngsters with its community and school coach training programme.

Since Premier Skills was launched in China in 2009, the scheme has created training opportunities for more than 600 physical education teachers from over 500 schools and community football clubs located in nine cities. The Premier Skills coaches, in turn, have reached more than 200,000 young people.

  What is Premier Skills?
It combines the global appeal of the Premier League with the reach of the British Council to use football to develop a brighter future for young people around the world. Drawing upon the Premier League's domestic expertise, it uses football to tackle social issues in the community, such as health, disability, gender, inclusion and education

This impact is set to expand significantly with the establishment of an institution network developed by the Ministry of Education. With the 'National University Alliance of Football Education in Community', Premier Skills will be incorporated into the Chinese curriculum to help develop a core group of highly skilled teachers and coaches to deliver community and school football programmes, which will in turn influence up to 1.2 million young students over the next three years. 

Premier Skills also is dedicated to training match officials around the world and in addition to the agreement for community coaching, the Chinese Football Association will have more than 200 young referees trained by UK experts from 2014 to 2016. Both these facets aim to maintain long term, healthy development of football in China.

To demonstrate the impact of the Premier Skills, which is run by the Premier League and the British Council, 15 Premier Skills Chinese grassroot coaches attended the event in Beijing and, with help from Jonathan Garside, Community Coach from Everton, demonstrated their improved skills on 150 local school students.

Helping football development

Also in attendance was former Barclays Premier League player Graeme Le Saux.

"It's fair to say, if you are comparing it to England, where we've been focusing on football at grassroots level for a long time, we've got a great infrastructure for development," the former Blackburn Rovers and Chelsea defender said. "China has a long way to go to be at that level, but having the opportunity for the Premier League to come to China and share our knowledge and to support in ways that we can can only help with football development in China."

One of the Chinese coaches to demonstrate their new skills was Li Xu Dong. "It is good for the Premier League to be involved in grassroots football in China," he said. "We have to nurture children's interest in football. I have participated in a few Premier Skills events now and it's great to see children developing more interest in football and get better technically."

"The impact Premier Skills has had so far in China is testament to how important we see our role in helping football develop in the country"
Richard Scudamore

Premier League Chief Executive called the new agreement an "exciting new chapter" and hoped that Premier Skills will play a valuable part in growing the game’s grassroots in China.

"The impact that Premier Skills has had so far in China over these past five years is testament to how important we see our role in helping football develop in the country," Scudamore said. "This exciting new chapter for the programme will see a huge increase in the numbers of teachers and coaches who will receive training from Premier League coach educators, with an estimated 1.2 million young students then benefitting from quality football coaching over these next three years."

Maria Miller, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Minister for Women and Equalities highlighted that the strength of the Premier League was not its international viewing figures but its impact on people’s lives.

"It is wonderful that the British Council and Premier League's Premier Skills programme takes the best of UK expertise in using football as a force for good and uses it to create opportunities for young people all over the world, not least in China," Miller said.

British Council Chief Executive Martin Davidson expressed his pride at the partnership with the Premier League. "Adapting Premier Skills to each country it operates in and working with the right partners is key to its success and nowhere is this demonstrated more clearly than in China," he said.

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