Friday 10 February 2017

The British Council and the Premier League are celebrating ten years of their Premier Skills programme with an exhibition of bespoke photography and films that showcase the huge impact the programme is having in communities around the world. 

Premier Skills is a partnership between the Premier League and the British Council that uses football to inspire young people, often including the most vulnerable in society, and provide opportunities to become better integrated into their local communities, to develop skills for employability and to raise their self-esteem. 

The Premier Skills model for delivery sees Premier League Club coaches provide face to face training for local community coaches, youth leaders and teachers in countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas. The training is rolled out over a series of phases of week-long courses – with the end goal that a core team of in-country ‘coach educators’ are established. These Premier Skills coach educators are capable of then training more new coaches, ensuring a sustainable and lasting impact in each country.  

The project uses the global appeal of the Premier League, and the British Council’s vast international network, to deliver coaching and refereeing sessions, and provide free to use education materials for community coaches, teachers and young people from Cape Town to Kuala Lumpur. 

Premier Skills was launched in 2007 and there are some fantastic success stories from the project, including Premier Skills participants who have gone on to run their own community football programmes, volunteers who now help deliver Premier Skills itself, and coaches who have connected via the project and now run community sport festivals. In total, more than 7,000 coaches and referees have taken part, and more than 6,000 teachers have gone through training to utilise the free football-related English language learning resources. Close to 30% of those involved around the world have been women and girls. The programme has created opportunities for 1.2 million people in 29 countries.

The exhibition also features images that capture the energy of fans from around the world to illustrate the global appeal of the Premier League. 

The photography and film exhibition reveals how those who have taken part in the project are now spreading the positive impact of Premier Skills. There are images from South Africa, India, Burma and Egypt that were captured by award winning photographer Charlie Clift (whose work recently featured in the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize) as well as local photographers. 

Premier League Executive Chairman, Richard Scudamore, said: “Premier Skills is a fantastic project that encourages young men and women around the world to get into sport, develop new skills, and positively influence their own local communities. Over the last ten years participants have ranged from a former international women's football team in India through to health charity workers in South Africa. I have seen first-hand the positive impact the project has had in these and many other countries.

“Premier Skills equips local coaches and teachers with the skills and knowledge to develop and co-ordinate their own sustainable football programmes. Thanks to this ‘train the trainer’ model, participants are constantly passing on what they have learnt to others. It is not just about playing football, but also encouraging confidence, developing opportunities to gain employment and equipping people with the practical skills to make a huge difference to the lives of others around them . 

“This photography exhibition includes some wonderful images of the most important people involved in the project: the inspirational local coaches and young people who have been on Premier Skills courses and play such a huge part in its continued success.” 

Sir Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive of the British Council, said: “The Premier Skills programme is 10 years old and we could not be prouder of what it has achieved. The partnership has continued to grow, now operating in countries across Asia, Africa and the Americas, to enormous success. The Premier League’s massive global appeal and the British Council’s expertise in delivering projects which have tremendous impact. This exhibition captures the fantastic work that has been done and the sheer reach of the programme.”

Photographer Charlie Clift said: “Football is a sport that has the power to bring people together and in photographing this project I saw first-hand the incredible impact of the Premier Skills programme. It harnesses a passion for football to change in the lives of people across the globe. I expected to find enjoyment of a game and a sense of community. What I did not expect is to find was that for many people football is a second family, a support group and a driver of social change. It provides its members with excitement, a set of traditions and a hope for the future.”

Exhibition detailsExhibition details:


30 January 2017 – 24th March 2017

The British Council, 10 Spring Gardens, London SW1A 2BN

Open 10am-5pm, Monday –Sunday. Admission free.

Notes to Editor

High res images: You can view and download hi-res images at: 

These images are the copyright of the artist and are only to be used in the promotion of the exhibition.

About the Premier League: The Premier League seeks to: play the most competitive and compelling football in full, vibrant stadiums; inspire fans, communities and partners through participation and opportunity; create interest and invigorate lives across the globe.

For more information on the football, our fans, their communities and the Premier League’s work across these areas go to


About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries. Using the UK’s cultural resources we make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust.

We work with over 100 countries across the world in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Each year we reach over 20 million people face-to-face and more than 500 million people online, via broadcasts and publications.

Founded in 1934, we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. The majority of our income is raised delivering a range of projects and contracts in English teaching and examinations, education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. Eighteen per cent of our funding is received from the UK government.

We operate as the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy in Beijing and Cultural and Education Section of the British Consulate-General in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing and Wuhan. Our Exams work across China operates as a Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise.For more information, please visit: