The Premier Skills initiative is set to return to South Africa at the end of March. The programme which is a collaboration between the Premier League and British council, is scheduled to run from the 25th of March to the 1st of April at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
The Premier Skills initiative has become world renowned over the years, operating in 19 countries and has developed over 1100 coaches and referees.
The programme is focused at the development of coaches and referees, and this year’s edition will offer intensive training for 60 of KwaZulu-Natal’s grassroots coaches and 24 referees.
They will be provided with expert training and an understanding of how to set up sustainable community projects at grassroots level using soccer to tackle issues such as health, disability, gender issues, social inclusion and education.
The skills development initiative will be led by head coach Graham Robinson, a Premier Skills head coach with the support of community coaches from the UK.
All coaches involved are Union of European Football Associations (Uefa) qualified coaches and they will be joined by South African Football Association (Safa) instructors, who will ensure that all graduates are licensed with Safa coaching and refereeing licences.
Safa and the British Council South Africa will work alongside six Non-Govenmental Organisations (NGO) to source the participants for the week-long training course.
The NGO’s that have partnered with Safa and Premier Skills are Amazulu FC, Whizz Kids United, Peace Players, Mtubatuba Football Academy, Benevolent Sports, Special XI F.C and Phinduvuye Community Development.
While the programme primarily deals with the development of coaches and referees, they also contribute to the structuring of the participants' own community-focused soccer projects.
The programme will also focus on linking community projects run by Premier League clubs to similar projects in other countries, building long-term partnerships that aim to change the lives of thousands of people.
Robin Petersen, CEO of the Safa Development Agency said: "Our longstanding partnership with the Premier Skills programme has allowed us further to achieve our goal of training 10,000 coaches per annum across the country. Linking these coaches to our local structures and NGOs ensures that the skills learned are put to use in the best possible manner."
Tim Vine, Premier League director of international relations said: "Premier Skills has already had a huge impact around the world and more specifically in South Africa where we have run the programme since 2013. We have trained some hugely talented and passionate community coaches and referees, who are now passing on their experience to a new cohort of coaches coming into the game for the first time."
"This new phase to Premier Skills in South Africa will triple the size and impact of what we are doing in South Africa, as we bring out Premier League club coaches to work alongside our South African coach educators to deliver SAFA-accredited courses to a raft of new participants. We are looking forward to kicking this new process off in Kwa-Zulu Natal, a new part of the country for Premier Skills, and in the impressive setting of the Moses Mabhida Stadium," concluded Vine.
Colm McGivern, British Council country director said: "Football is like the 12th official language in South Africa, so I’m delighted to launch Premier Skills here for a second, bigger run. There is no more powerful way in which we can connect with young people in communities across the country. Working with grass-roots coaches and referees, the programme develops their leadership skills, which in turn they use in their own communities. We’re proud to partner with SAFA and local NGOs – which also knows the powerful role coaches can play in the lives of those they reach with their inspirational work."