Friday 10 November 2017

Premier Skills, the global coach and referee development programme run by the Premier League and the British Council, is launching in Tshwane.Premier Skills will take place from 12 – 18 November 2017 with intensive training for 60grassroots football coaches and 24 referees.

The programme sees Premier League club coaches provide face to face training and education materials to participants who will then be able to use and share their newly acquired skills to develop and co-ordinate projects in their own schools and 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.

This Phase One course, hosted at the High-Performance Centre at the University of Pretoria in Gauteng, will be the last course in the first stage of this programme.  It will be led by Premier League Coach Educator Graham Robinson who will be supported by Alex Curran and Steven Bell, community coaches from Middlesbrough FC and Newcastle United FCrespectively. 

The course in Tshwane is being jointly organised by the British Council, Premier League and SAFA.

Throughout the week the grassroots trainees will receive expert training from qualified Premier Skills coaches and referees, giving them the skills and support to develop their own community football projects and their development as referees.

Local Premier Skills Coach Educators who completed the Premier Skills programme in 2013 will support the UK coaches on this course. One of those coach educators, Liezl Windvogel has now changed career and works to train new coaches in communities across South Africa. She said: “I find it extremely satisfying to be able to give back to the community I work with in Johannesburg”.

Coaches and referees from the following NGOs will participate in the Tshwane leg of the programme:

  • Footballers 4 Life-Johannesburg
  • Dlala Ntombazane-Pretoria
  • Inner-city Ambassadors-Hillbrow
  • Grassroots Soccer-Alexandra Township
  • Scout South Africa-Mpumalanga
  • Leseding Community Project- North West
  • Free State Sports 4 Change-Bloemfontein

Since Premier Skills began in 2007, 17,715 coaches and referees have been trained in 29* countries, who in turn have reached 1.5 million young people.

CEO of the SAFA Development Agency, Dr Robin Petersen said:

“We are delighted that our longstanding relationship with the Premier Skills programme will continue with this latest round of coach development in Tshwane.  Developing competent coaches at all levels remains a cornerstone of our Vision 2022 development plan, and these coaching workshops with the Premier Skills play a unique role in this development.”

Premier League Director of International Relations, Tim Vine 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. Since the project’s inception, we have trained over 200 hugely talented and passionate community coaches and referees, who have passed on their experience to over 13 500 young people 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 the country, as we bring out Premier League club coaches to work alongside South African coach educators to deliver SAFA-accredited courses to a raft of new participants. We are looking forward to this third South African phase one course in Tshwane.”

 British Council Country Director, Colm McGivern said:
“Joining Premier Skills is like getting a free-kick for your future.  It’s just what you want, just when you need it most, and could change the course of your life.  This training programme reaches to the heart of South African communities and creates opportunities for leaders to develop their capability using sport, and football in particular, to increase their life chances and those they meet and train.  Working alongside one of the biggest UK brands – the Premier League – the British Council is proud to offer this opportunity to a new cohort of inspirational figures in community sport.”

Notes to Editor

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, influencing institutional approaches to social action through football as well as providing direct training to coaches and referees.

Since Premier Skills began in 2007, 17,715 coaches and referees have been trained in 29* countries, who in turn have reached 1.5 million young people.

6,000 teachers have received training in the use of the Premier Skills English materials, with 6.5 million views of the materials online.

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.

Since the start of 2017 in South Africa, Premier Skills phase ones have been delivered in both Durban and Cape Town where over 100 community coaches have received a CAF D license.  Phase two delivery will take place in early 2018 where coaches will have the opportunity to further develop their knowledge and skills.

For more on Premier Skills visit

To find out more about the football-focused English content and to view the materials online, visit

 The Premier League is involved in a wide range of community projects both in the UK and overseas. For more information on these see:

Issued by Go4Word on behalf of the British Council.  For further information, please contact Kim Barty – or 083 630 6861.


About Premier League

The Premier League is home to some of the most competitive and compelling football in the world. The League and its clubs use the power and popularity of the competition to inspire fans, communities, and partners in the UK and across the world. The Premier League brings people together from all backgrounds. It is a competition for everyone, everywhere and is available to watch in 1 billion homes in 189 countries.


 Head Coach:

Graham Robinson
Graham’s focus is to work closely with the Sunderland’s Commercial Department in order to support the Club partners. Graham has three key markets, which are, Africa, America and Asia. The aim is to eventually have 2 partner clubs in each continent. Sunderland AFC already has two partner clubs in Africa (Asante Kotoko in Ghana and Bidvest Wits in South Africa). Graham provides support and advice to both of these clubs as well as sharing best practice.

Graham had worked for rivals Middlesbrough Football Club for over 10 years prior to moving to Sunderland AFC. He worked in a range of roles starting as a casual/ academy coach in 1997 and by 2007, had progressed to Football Development Manager.  Graham is UEFA “B” qualified and is a Coach Educator for the FA.  


Steven Bell
Steven is a UEFA B License coach who has over 12 years of experience in coaching football, currently have qualifications in coaching Goalkeepers, Futsal, Deaf & Blind footballers and players with a vast range of disabilities. His experience also involves coaching First Team & Development football in the Women’s Premier League and includes a league title. He is also an affiliate FA Tutor, developing coaches around the Northumberland area in their Level 1 and Level 2 coaching awards.

Alex Curran
Alex is the Stepping Up Project Coordinator, a pioneering new programme which focuses on supporting children through their transition from primary to secondary school. He has a team of 3 staff working in 22 primary and 3 secondary schools.

 Alex holds an FA Level 2 coach qualification and also has an FA Youth Award Modules 1&2.


Paul Canadine
Paul is employed by Professional Game Match Officials Limited as a Coach to develop Assistant Referee’s in the English Football League (EFL). Paul also has experience in delivering training in the USA, Dubai & Ireland. Paul’s Refereeing career started in 1990 and in 1998 he moved up to the Select Group of Assistant Referee’s (Premier League).

 Kevin Wright
Kevin started his refereeing career in Peterborough in the UK and made a rapid rise to the Football League by the age of 29 progressing onto the National List.  He has been appointed to many prestige games such as: JPT Final (Wembley), FA Sunday Cup Final, Dallas Cup Final, Nordic Cup Final and Football League Play Off Final.

Since retiring in 2016, and given his wealth of experience (21 years) and respect within the game, Kevin has become a National List Match Observer making a huge contribution to the development of senior referees within the game.

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 directly reach over 65 million people and more than 660 million people 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. Fifteen per cent of our funding is received from the UK government.