Thursday 25 July 2013


Premier League launches Barclays Asia trophy off-pitch activity in Hong Kong 

  • Premier Skills programme to train 40 local coaches and P.E. teachers
  • Premier League referees to run a coaching course for 25 grassroots referees
  • Creating Chances skills development programme for 64 children

A key feature of this week’s Barclays Asia Trophy is the work going on off-the-pitch, with the Premier League and partners running a series of football projects aimed at helping develop the grassroots of the game in Hong Kong.

Alongside the tournament, which features Barclays Premier League teams Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Sunderland and Hong Kong champions South China, the Premier League and the British Council delivered two of their innovative Premier Skills courses.

The first took place from Saturday 20 to Wednesday 24 July and was for 40 grassroots coaches - 30 from the Hong Kong Football Association and 10 P.E. teachers from South China, associated with the Chinese Football Association.  The second was a referee development course for 25 grassroots referees from Hong Kong taking place from Sunday 21 to Tuesday 23 July.  Both Premier Skills courses took place at Po Kong Village Road, with the exception of one day which was hosted at Morse Park.

Running parallel to the Premier Skills courses at the same venues was the Creating Chances youth programme.  Taking place from Saturday 20 July to Wednesday 24 July, this is a skills development project for 64 lucky 8 to 11 year-old children, selected from the Hong Kong FA’s Junior Fans Club and the Cumberland Presbyterian Yao Dao Primary School in Tin Shui Wai.

Premier Skills is a hugely successful international coach and referee development project run by the Premier League and the British Council.  It provides high quality practical and educational training to coaches and referees at grassroots level, and has already had a major impact across China and the rest of the world.

During the Barclays Asia Trophy, the Premier Skills referee training was being led by Anthony Taylor and Neil Swarbrick, who are Premier League referees for the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) and will be the two official referee’s at the Barclays Asia Trophy tournament.

The coach development side to Premier Skills brought together 10 male and female coaches who have taken part in an initial phase of training in Guangzhou, along with 30 new coaches selected from the Hong Kong Football Association.  Utilising the expertise behind the work delivered by Premier League clubs in their communities in England, Premier Skills was led by Jeremy Weeks, former Paralympic Football Competitions Manager for the London 2012 games and veteran of seven previous Premier Skills projects.  He was supported by experienced community coaches from Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland, who have all had experience in delivering Premier Skills courses around the world.

For the Creating Chances Coaching Programme a group of 64 local children – a mixture of boys and girls – received three hours of top quality skills coaching each day. Using the Creating Chances model that the Premier League run in England, the children were not only being taught new football skills but also learned about healthy lifestyles and personal development. Creating Chances was led by Gareth Hughes, City in the Community Events Projects Manager from Manchester City and he was supported by experienced community coaches from Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland.

The two courses culminated on 25 July at the Premier Skills Community Festival, which took place at Po Kong Village Park.  The Premier Skills coaches hosted a demonstration of what they have learned, whilst the referees officiated mini-tournaments involving the 64 children from the Creating Chances coaching programme.  Joining them are players and coaching staff from the participating Premier League Clubs. The players who attended the Festival include Alvaro Negrado, Ya Ya Toure and Abdul Razak from Manchester City, Gylfi Siguardsson, Kyle Walker and Heurelho Gomes from Tottenham Hotspur, and Wes Brown, Kieren Westwood and Jozy Altidore from Sunderland.

Premier League Chief Executive, Richard Scudamore, said: “The Premier League is committed to using the excitement and interest football generates to encourage grassroots participation, education and social development.

“In England we have a long history of working hard in our local communities, so it is only right that where we are popular and can make a difference, we use the power of football to make a change.

“This is what Jeremy Weeks, Anthony Taylor and Kate Hodgkinson, our Premier League International Development Manager, were doing all this week along with coaches from Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland - taking the skills they have learned working with their communities and passing them on to coaches and children in Hong Kong.

“Of course we are only as strong as our partners. The British Council have been instrumental in making Premier Skills our flagship international good causes programme and our local partners, the Hong Kong FA and the China FA have all contributed to making this week work - not only now, but to leave a lasting legacy of skills in coaching and education.”

Robert Ness, Director of British Council Hong Kong, said, “Since 2007, the British Council and the Premier League have been working together on the Premier Skills project, aiming to use football as a tool to engage with and develop the English skills of grassroots participants.  I am delighted that we are to engage prospective young coaches and referees in a variety of issues in the community, such as health, disability, gender, social inclusion and education through football.”

Notes to Editor

(1) About Premier Skills

Premier Skills is a partnership between the Premier League and the British Council which uses football as a tool to engage with and develop the skills of young people.

Since the first pilot in 2007, the project has been delivered across 21 countries: Botswana, Brazil, Cameroon, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Korea, Sudan, Tunisia (including Libyan participants), Uganda and Vietnam.

In 2010 an enhanced coaching offer and new referee coaching element was added to the programme, as well as a new community project element based on the Premier League’s highly successful UK Kickz programme, linking UK 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.

The target by summer 2013 is for Premier Skills to have reached more than 500,000 young people through the coaches, and to provide access to the English language materials for millions of teachers and learners of English worldwide.

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 on Premier Skills visit

(2) About the Barclays Premier League

The Barclays Premier League is the biggest continuous annual global sporting event in the world. Last season more than 13.6m fans attended matches with average stadium occupancy in excess of 95%. Across nine months of the year, 380 matches are viewed in 212 territories worldwide. Coverage of the matches is available in over 800m households with an estimated cumulative global audience of 4.7bn.

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. 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 7000 staff – including 2000 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-in-aid provides less than 25 per cent of our turnover, which last year was £781m. 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.