Premier Skills

Building brighter futures through football

Premier Skills uses football to develop a brighter future for young people around the world. 

A global partnership between the British Council and the Premier League, the programme empowers grassroots coaches and referees to help young people, including the most vulnerable in society, find pathways to better lives through the inspirational power of football.

Premier Skills has given me a completely different view about coaching football … I can change lives through it.

Tanaz, Premier Skills Coach Educator, India

The goal

Premier Skills uses football as a tool for change, enabling people to achieve positive social and educational outcomes in their communities. This concept is called ‘football in the community’.

Through face-to-face training, grassroots coaches and referees develop the skills, knowledge and confidence needed to run their own community football projects, through which they can engage and enrich the lives of marginalised and at-risk young people.

By participating in regular football sessions, young people develop their own life skills and confidence, helping them become better integrated into their communities, improving their employability and raising their self-esteem.

Across different countries, the Premier Skills model is tailored to address key social issues specific to a country or region, such as violence against women and girls, female participation in sport and educational opportunities for disadvantaged young people.

The global legacy of Premier Skills is a worldwide network of individuals and organisations, empowered to bring about positive social change through inclusive football training programmes that benefit local communities.

We have now noticed boys no longer bully the girls, and there is a sense of respect for the girls. As for the girls, they have become more aware of their rights and are more empowered.

Premier Skills Community Coach, Kenya

Global reach

Worldwide, Premier Skills has trained 28,808 grassroots coaches and referees, who have gone on to develop the confidence and skills of 1.7 million young people in 29* countries around the world. See where the programme currently runs, or discover the Premier League legacy countries.

Premier Skills has reached 29 countries since 2007

Find out more about Premier Skills countries.

*This includes Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China. 


The approach

Premier Skills takes the best of UK expertise of using football as a force for good and applies this to create opportunities for young people all over 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 and experience of delivering world-class society-based programmes. The proven model uses football as an entry point for social action, engaging tens of thousands of aspiring coaches and referees who are keen to develop their skills. They receive direct training from Premier League coaches on inclusive football coaching and using football as a tool for community development, building their capacity to develop their own community interventions.

In each country, Premier Skills works with partners such as governments, local and national football associations, sports bodies and non-governmental organisations to adapt the programme to local needs. Together they identify and recruit grassroots coaches and referees and set up local community projects to address specific local needs.

Thanks to Premier Skills, I have the courage to take a leap of faith. They’ve empowered me to give back to the community.

Liezl, Premier Skills Coach Educator, South Africa

Developing grassroots coaches and referees

Premier Skills trains and develops grassroots coaches and referees to have the skills and knowledge needed to run successful Premier Skills programmes within their own communities.

Phase one – Community Coaching course and introductory refereeing courses

Grassroots coaches participate in a week of training delivered by professional Premier League coach educators, with a focus on inclusive football coaching. Here they learn about coaching in the community and coaching behaviours and techniques. 

Grassroots referees receive three days of training from Premier League referees to gain the skills needed to qualify as a referee in their country. The focus here is on the laws and rules of the game and practical refereeing skills. 

At the end of this phase, all participants cascade their learning within their organisations and can apply for Premier Skills funding to develop their own grassroots initiatives. 

Phase two – Community Development course and advanced refereeing courses

Selected phase one community coaches have the chance to join three Premier League coach educators to learn how to use football as a tool for community development. Here they are supported with developing social inclusion projects based on community priorities and learn how to connect with local partner organisations and groups on shared issues. 

Fully qualified referees at either the grassroots or senior levels receive three days of training to further develop their referring skills and knowledge. 

At the end of this phase, participants cascade their learning within their own communities and establish community development projects, with the option to apply for Premier Skills funding.  

Phase three – Coach Educator training

Selected phase two participants receive training to become Premier Skills coach educators. Two Premier League head coaches lead the three-stage programme: 
  1. Participants are given five days of face-to-face training to gain the tutoring skills needed to run adult coach training.
  2. Over the next two months, participants work on session plans to run sessions to deliver adult coach training.
  3. The participants provide training to their own communities to develop 30 new coaches, observed by the Premier League coach educators.

Coach Educators cascading in the community

Those who graduate as Premier Skills coach educators apply their new skills, working with the British Council and local organisations to run ‘cascade activities’.

They share learning by delivering Introduction to Community Coaching courses across one to five days, using football as an inclusive engagement tool. Phase one and two coach and referee participants continue to use their skills and knowledge gained through Premier Skills to develop their roles and work in the community.

The story so far ...

Premier Skills kicks off
This first community coaching course is held in Cairo, Egypt, attended by 40 grassroots coaches.
Premier Skills English is launched
Teachers and learners globally gain access to new interactive English learning resources, which have now received 6.5 million online views.
Refs join the ranks
Uganda hosts the first Premier Skills refereeing course for participants from the national football association and sport for development NGOs.
A focus on social development
Inspired by the Premier League Kickz project, Premier Skills begins using football to engage young people in marginalised communities.
The first Coach Educators
In Uganda, the first Coach Educators graduate and begin delivering Premier Skills Introduction to Community Coaching sessions.
Addressing violence against women and girls
The DFID (Department for International Development), supported Kenya Timz project helps to promote the prevention of gender-based violence in Kenya through community football sessions.
10 years of Premier Skills
In 2017, we celebrated our 10th birthday with an exhibition in the UK House of Commons.
Enterprise skills for young people
The Comic-Relief-supported International Enterprise Programme works with professional South African football clubs to develop enterprise skills in marginalised young people.
Premier Skills 2019-2022 begins
We will be working with our network of Premier Skills Coach Educators to develop their skills further; engaging them in the delivery of bespoke society and education related activities'

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