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Wednesday 16 October 2013

Premier Skills programme has 'changed my life'

Coaches praise the Premier League's scheme after completing the The FA International Licence

  • Barobi Nwako takes part in the FA International Licence at St George's Park

  • Nwako leads a coaching session on the two-week course

  • Nwako works on eight Premier Skills projects in Botswana. Photo credit: Spike Sinombe

  • Nwako and Premier Skills has helped children at an orphanage. Photo credit: Spike Sinombe

  • Haruna Kebba from Uganda has been involved in Premier Skills since 2008

Two graduates from the Premier League’s Premier Skills coaching programme got the chance to enhance their knowledge on a recent trip to England when they completed The FA International Licence.

Haruna Kebba, from Uganda, and Barobi Nwako, from Botswana, were selected to join 20 other coaches from around the world in completing the two-week course at St George’s Park, the home of the National Football Centre, where the participants learnt new skills that will develop their coaching career as well as paving the way for further qualifications.

The course covered every aspect of coaching such as attacking, defending and technical sessions while the participants also completed UEFA B Licence modules and watched matches in the Barclays Premier League, Barclays Under-21 Premier League and Championship before assessing players and tactics.

"I have to say thank you to Premier Skills because if it wasn't for them, I would not have gone to London"
Barobi Nwako

"It was a great opportunity for me because we were carefully chosen for the course," Kebba told "It was so helpful. We studied a number of things, such as coaching philosophy, and I want to develop a philosophy in my country that it is not only about playing football, we need to use football to develop a human being as a whole.

"And we have been able to pass the knowledge on. Just today I have been meeting some other Premier Skills coaches and I was trying to share some experiences with them from that course."

Nwako and Kebba also saw for themselves how Premier League and Football League clubs are working to produce the next generation of players when they visited the academies at Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

"The standard of the Aston Villa and Wolves Academies is really very high," Kebba said. "I have shared the information I received with my fellow Premier Skills coaches. We can also see what we can emulate, what we can do within the resources we have so that we can produce something that looks like what they do.

"I learnt a lot of things from those visits and I am really hoping to establish my own Academy to help the youngsters from grassroots level."

Nwako described the feeling when she learnt that she was picked for the course as "awesome", but acknowledged the origins of her journey to St George's.

"At one point I felt small for the course but the principles of the game are the same," she said. "It was a big course but I managed to bring the licence home.

Reaching out to the community

"I am very proud of myself and I have to say thank you to Premier Skills because if it wasn't for them, I would not have gone to London. It was a big opportunity for me and it has opened a lot of doors."

Nwako and Kebba are now both coach educators in their respective countries after coming through the final and third phase of Premier Skills, the Premier League’s flagship international good causes project.

The scheme, run in partnership with the British Council, began in 2007 and now works in 21 countries around the world and utilises the expertise of Premier League coaches to train grassroots coaches so that they, in turn, have the possibility of running coaching courses of their own, passing on their knowledge to others, particularly young people, in their local community.

Nwako has launched eight schemes across the country while she has also visited a state prison to teach them life skills.

"Premier Skills has changed my life," she said. "I am now using football to reach out and spread different messages to the community. I have identified some challenges that faced our communities and tried to address them through football, such as HIV/AIDS.

"We put communities together through football"
Haruna Kebba

"I have been organising some football tournaments with the local testing and counselling centre so that when people are at the field watching football matches, they are at the same time getting tested and receiving counselling. Football can really be used as a tool to reach out to the community and address different challenges.

"The FA international licence allows me to work in professional leagues in the country but my passion is to see young people grow with their football skills. I am really focused to improving the young players and giving them the right techniques while they are young."

Kebba is also hoping that the knowledge he gained on the course will help develop football in his country, while hoping that Premier Skills will have a wider impact on young people’s lives in general.

As a technical director of the Youth In Action programme in Uganda, Kebba is involved with eight schools to help children that have dropped out to return to education.

"I need to give to my FA what I learnt from the course so that I can work with those people who can develop something that I saw at St George’s Park," he said.  "As for the impact of Premier Skills, that is so great. We put communities together through football. The philosophy of Premier Skills, everybody is supported regardless of status."

To watch the work of Premier Skills and Barobi Nwako in Botwana, click here >>

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