Thursday 22 May 2014

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi praises role of English football in supporting the vulnerable in Burma.

A group of Premier League coaches have won the support today of Nobel Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for their work in helping to launch the global Premier Skills initiative in Burma this week.

The group’s first week of intensive training for 48 Burmese grassroots football coaches included the honour of a visit on Thursday 22 May from the leader of Burma’s National League for Democracy, who came to see for herself the new programme at the Thuwanna Stadium’s Youth Training Centre, in Yangon, the country’s former capital and biggest city.

Commenting on the coaching sessions, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said: “Many of our young people face serious problems. Premier Skills will help the most vulnerable, including those who may lack access to education, have a disability or be among our country’s many unemployed. Football, which is so popular among our young people, can provide the means to helping them confront these issues. I look forward to seeing the benefits of this innovative project in our most disadvantaged communities.”

Premier Skills uses football to develop a brighter future for young people around the world, drawing upon the global appeal of the Premier League and its expertise in delivering community programmes in the UK, alongside the British Council’s global network and track record of delivery. Through Premier Skills, young people, often including the most vulnerable in society, are given opportunities to become better integrated into their local communities, to develop their skills for employability and to raise their self-esteem.

In Burma, Premier Skills is being jointly organised by the British Council, Premier League and Burma Football Federation.

The first phase of the project  in Burma involves a week of community develop coaching,  led by Premier Skills Head Coach Jeremy Weeks. He is supported by Andrew Foster (Newcastle United FC), Matthew Hill (Stoke City FC), and Steve Eadon (Arsenal FC). 

The 48 carefully selected Burmese grassroots trainees have come from Burmese civil society networks such as Football United, and Burma Football Federation club coaches will be coming from Yangon, Taunggyi, Mandalay and Mawlamyine. The UK coaches will share their experiences of leading community development projects in disadvantaged parts of the UK, and will support the Burmese coaches to develop their own community football projects. 

As of 2014, Premier Skills has trained 2,300 coaches and referees  in 23 countries across Asia, Africa and the Americas, who in turn have reached a further 500,000 young people. It aims to train a further 3,000 coaches and referees and through them reach more than 300,000 young people.

In addition to coaching, a range of free materials, including a dedicated website, have been created under Premier Skills for teachers and learners of English that utilise exciting Premier League content and the British Council’s world-class expertise in English.

Kevin Mackenzie, Country Director of British Council in Burma said “There is a real passion for Premier League football here, and Premier Skills offers people the opportunity to use this enthusiasm in community development work across the country. Premier Skills is a tremendously exciting project and I’m very happy that we are launching it in Burma.”

Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore said “In a country with such an interest and passion for football and the Premier League, we are excited to be launching Premier Skills in Burma. The Premier League and our clubs have a long-standing commitment to delivering outstanding community programmes in the UK and through our partnership with the British Council on Premier Skills, we now look to build on this by setting up similar projects around the world. 

“Over the course of the next two years a core group of local coach educators will be trained to then take Premier Skills forward, passing on what they have learnt by training up yet more grassroots coaches, ensuring the project’s long term sustainability in Burma.” 

Notes to Editor

Please credit photos to British Council/Boothee.

More hi-res photos of today’s event are available on request.

Please contact Tim Sowula, Senior Press Officer, British Council for photos or more information 0207 389 4871

Interviews with the Premier League coaches may be possible while in Burma.


About Premier Skills

Premier Skills is a partnership between the Premier League and the British Council which uses football as a tool to develop a brighter future for young people around the world.

It draws upon the Premier League’s global appeal and expertise in delivering community programmes in the UK, alongside the British Council’s global network, track record of delivery and world class expertise in English.

Premier Skills is a proven model, having already delivered tremendous impact in 23 countries up to 2014: Afghanistan, Botswana, Brazil, Cameroon, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Korea, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia (including Libyan participants), Uganda, Vietnam and Zambia.

Through Premier Skills English, teachers and learners of English are given free, compelling learning materials, drawing on football-based content from the most exciting football league in the world.


About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide.

We work in more than 100 countries and our 7,000 staff – including 2,000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year by teaching English, sharing the arts and delivering education and society programmes.

We are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter. A core publically-funded grant provides less than 25 per cent of our turnover which last year was £781 million. The rest of our revenues are earned from services which customers around the world pay for, through education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. All our work is in pursuit of our charitable purpose and supports prosperity and security for the UK and globally.