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Friday 27 September 2013

Premier Skills to expand under new commitment

Programme to be in place in more countries and target including more women

  • From left: Hague, Beall, Miller, Lowe, Earle and Scudamore at the Consul General's residence

  • Hague had words of praise for the Premier Skills programme

  • Beall, right, made the announcement on stage alongside Bill Clinton

The Premier League has pledged a joint commitment with the British Council to expand their successful Premier Skills partnership to include more countries and help more youngsters at risk around the world.

"Premier Skills has shown how it can be adapted to work in a wide range of countries"
Richard Scudamore

The announcement was made on stage at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, in New York, where the Premier League and British Council said that Premier Skills, which has to date created opportunities for young people in 21 countries, will extend its reach to new nations. A further commitment was also made to a target of more women and girls as participants in the countries where Premier Skills operates by 2016.

The reach of Premier Skills will be extended into territories as varied as the United States, South Africa and Qatar and will place a special emphasis on developing opportunities for at-risk youth, to create safer, stronger communities, building on the success of programmes in challenging areas of Rio de Janeiro, Jakarta and Kolkata.

Premier Skills works in three areas: Premier League coaches provide face-to-face training for local coaches and referees, who then develop their own community soccer projects; 'at risk' young people gain opportunities to develop themselves and their communities, through projects inspired by the successful UK-based initiative Premier League Kicks; teachers and learners receive access to English-language products, including face-to-face training for teachers, school resources, and digital content.

Innovative coaching sessions

More than 400,000 children have benefited so far from innovative coaching sessions delivered by the 2,300 coaches and referees whom Premier Skills has trained in 21 countries since it first started in 2007.

"The positive impact that Premier Skills has had across the world is down to three factors: the effort and dedication of the Premier League trainers who deliver it; the invaluable support and local expertise of the British Council in each country it takes place; and the enthusiasm and desire of the people who participate in the projects, who go on to make a significant difference to their own lives and the lives of those around them," said Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore, who celebrated the renewed commitment with an event at the residence of Danny Lopez, the British Consul General in New York. "Premier Skills has shown how it can be adapted to work in a wide range of countries, tackling a number of different issues. I am looking forward to seeing it further expand, develop and evolve over these next three years."

Also attending the consul general's event was Foreign Secretary William Hague MP and Jon Miller, the president of programming at NBC Sports, the exclusive rights holder for the Barclays Premier League in the US. Rebecca Lowe, the NBC Sports anchor for its Barclays Premier League coverage, and Robbie Earle, who is one of its pundits and was one of the original Premier Skills coaches, were also there.

"Sport is a universal language, one that transcends culture, class and religion," Hague said. "It provides a simple, effective tool to create economic opportunity and bring people together. And Premier Skills is a prime example.

"This commitment will improve the lives of more young people and strengthen more communities around the world"
Dr Jo Beall

"In countries where people are facing an uncertain future, such as Afghanistan, Egypt, Sudan and Uganda, Premier Skills is helping to rebuild broken communities. In Afghanistan, in particular, where the game has been hit badly since the Soviet invasion of 1979 and the ensuing civil war, football is re-emerging.

"To help this development at grassroots level, Premier Skills has brought together football coaches from the UK and Afghanistan, to improve local coaching and to increase participation. Activities such as this make an important contribution to winning hearts and minds, and ensuring that young Afghans grow up with a greater sense of the things that unite us."

The British Council's Director, Education, Dr Jo Beall, talked of her pride at the organisation's partnership with the Premier League and of the goal to get more female participants.

"This commitment will improve the lives of more young people and strengthen more communities around the world," she said. "We are particularly energized to reach our target of 50% women and girls as Premier Skills participants – soccer is a universal language and we believe that Premier Skills can have a great impact in breaking down barriers to girls' participation."

For more on Premier Skills visit www.britishcouncil.org/sport-premier-skills.htm

To find out more about the football-focused English content and to view the materials online, visit http://premierskills.britishcouncil.org/

Premier Skills has brought together Afghan football coaches to help the game in the country

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Key Points

  • Premier League has announced that it will extend and expand its Premier Skills partnership with the British Council
  • The project will extend its reach into eight new countries
  • A minimum target of 50% women and girls participating is also being set