Premier Skills helping Botswana to get ahead

How the Premier League’s lead international initiative is changing lives in Botswana

Premier Skills in action

On Saturday, Botswana will continue their attempt to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations for only the second time in their history when they face Mali in the first leg of qualifying.

“The Zebras” may have never played in the FIFA World Cup but they have been on the rise in African football and were the first country to book a place in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.

Aiming to stop them qualifying for the tournament in South Africa in January are a Mali side with a strong Premier League influence – Fulham’s Mahamadou Diarra and West Ham United’s Modibo Maiga are in the squad.

Botswanan football too is also feeling the benefit of the Premier League’s assistance with a scheme to ensure that the country’s improved elite ranking is replicated at grassroots level.

Success story

Premier Skills, an international partnership between the Premier League and the British Council, operates in 20 countries around the world and develops community coaches and referees so that they can pass on their knowledge and expertise to others.

The initiative has been going for five years, in which time more than 350,000 young people have benefited from the programme, while 1,500 community coaches and referees have been trained.

Botswana is one of the Premier Skills success stories and with the help and support of the Botswana Football Association, the programme has completed the final Phase Three where newly trained coaches who have come through the scheme begin to coach new trainees.

You can watch a video feature on how the programme has changed lives for Batswana (as people of Botswana are called) by clicking on the photo at the top of this page, and here, two Premier Skills coaches describe what impact the initiative has made on them.

What have you learnt from Premier Skills and how are you able to impart that knowledge to the community?

Fatima Sedimo: I have been involved with Premier Skills since 2009 and I have learnt a lot. As a teacher to the mentally challenged and the physically disabled I have learnt how to include life skills within training sessions. I have found it very easy, even with the most severely disabled children, because Premier Skills has taught me to work from simple to complex and how to use different equipment to suit different levels of learners.

Barobi Nwako: I have learnt that football is not just a game but a tool that we can all use to teach to the community. I have learnt to run community projects through football and to teach my players some lessons on life skills.

What do think of Premier Skills and how it is affecting the community? 

Barobi Nwako: It has helped us a great deal. I have attended a few courses on coaching but on how to use football on the pitch . My eyes have been opened as Premier Skills has taught me how to use football to reach out to the community and to spread different messages on life skills through football.

What has it been like as a Premier Skills champion passing on the knowledge to new coaches?

Fatima Sedimo: It has been a wonderful experience. The response was positive. Botswana is a small country and we have few skilled coaches but Premier Skills is helping to increase that number which will help our communities back at home especially the ones in the remotest areas.

How do you think the children have responded?   

Barobi Nwako: It’s wonderful, it’s awesome. It was our first time working with them but everything was superb I’d say. The first day is a challenge but I have enjoyed being with them.

What do you think of the Premier League and its involvement in communities like Botswana? 

Fatima Sedimo: It is a wonderful because they have taught us many things and made us into coach educators. We are going to transfer the education they gave us to our brothers and sisters and there are courses going on around the country that after a year or so will be all around Botswana.

Is the Premier League popular in Botswana?

Barobi Nwako: Everyone is supporting Premier League teams. We support Arsenal, we support Chelsea, and we support Wolves. It’s amazing the way we support the Premier League teams.

Fatima Sedimo: Yes, because of Premier Skills it has become very popular, everyone asks about it and wants to become engaged in it. Botswana football is very proud of the Premier League.

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Lampard: Premier League ‘the best in the world’

The start to Frank Lampard’s 18th season in the Barclays Premier League could hardly have been better as the Chelsea midfielder converted a penalty in his side’s 2-0 victory at Wigan Athletic on Sunday.

 

The 34-year-old is the highest-scoring midfielder in the competition’s history, the only player to have managed double figures in goals in nine consecutive seasons and last season he became one of only six players to have passed 500 Premier League appearances.

Lampard is set to make his 523rd League appearance this evening at home to Reading as Chelsea look to build on their winning start to the campaign and attempt to add to the three League titles Lampard has helped them win.

The England international’s 2011/12 season was bookended with trophies. He won the Barclays Asia Trophy with Chelsea in July 2011, before lifting The FA Cup in May and then adding the one major club honour missing from his collection: a UEFA Champions League winner’s medal.

Speaking exclusively before the start of the 2012/13 season the 34-year-old looked back on the drama of last season’s campaign and modestly reflected on his legendary status in Premier League history.

He reveals how Chelsea became united to become European champions and how he almost left these shores to play abroad.

 

“”All the way down the League teams are improving

and have something to fight for”

Frank Lampard

 

Exciting finale

How exciting was it to be a part of last season?

Frank Lampard: It was amazing. If you wrote it as a movie script no one would believe it. It just shows how competitive the Premier League is.

What’s the footballer’s take on Sergio Aguero’s injury-time winner that sealed the title for Manchester City – are those last-ditch goals about guts or luck?

FL: You need a bit of luck – every team does. We had some at Chelsea last season, but you have to keep believing and Manchester City never gave up. They pushed and pushed and got the reward. Aguero is a class player and with strikers like that in your team things can happen for you any time in a match.

Was it the most competitive season you’ve played in?

FL: For me personally it wasn’t, because we weren’t where we wanted to be in the League. Not to be challenging for the title and focusing on the two cups we eventually won changed the emphasis at Chelsea. Six teams competing for the top places made it harder than ever and it will be tougher again next season. Manchester City will be strong, Manchester United are always the benchmark and you can’t underestimate teams like Arsenal or Liverpool. It’s great for the League to have so much strength.

 

Chelsea’s victory in the UEFA Champions League ensured England were the top performing European league for the fifth year in a row. What makes the League so strong?

FL: It’s tough as there’s no easy games, no simple three points as all the way down the League the teams are improving and have something to fight for. Other leagues in Europe have top teams but I feel we have more strength in depth and more top players from around the world.

What was the secret to Chelsea’s Champions League win?

FL: It’s common knowledge we had some shaky times last season, but once the managerial change came there was a fresh unity – like the Chelsea of old. We all felt part of the campaign again and we wanted it badly – we always have. Players that are used to winning things don’t give that up easily. It’s about big players and determination.

 

‘Best league in world football’

Last season was the Premier League’s 20th. You’ve played in 17 of them – what has changed on and off the pitch in that time?

FL: So much has changed in my time. The TV influence is huge and it has taken the English game to such new levels with interest around the world. This has allowed teams to grow and attract the best players and they have helped raise standards and training techniques, which now leave us with the most interesting and, for me, best league in world football.

How proud are you of what you have achieved in the Premier League?

FL: When I signed for Chelsea I wanted to win things for my club. Having done that, personal achievements are great to have – but they’re just stats. It’s all about trophies. I’m part of a team and if I can break records to help my team I’m doubly happy.

 

What is your most memorable experience in the Premier League?

FL: When I scored the two goals against Bolton that won Chelsea the League for the first time in 50 years. Wow, that was something, even thinking back to it now. The reaction of the fans was unreal.

 

Drogba great

We said goodbye to Didier Drogba at the end of this season. He has been a wonderful ambassador for the Premier League, but what are your memories of your long-time teammate?

FL: Didier is a great player and a great man and he will always be a friend. We get on really well. He’s a winner and a decent human being and he does such tireless work for charity.

What about the next generation of Frank Lampards? Do you think we will see more home grown players coming through Chelsea’s training ground?

FL: Cobham is a great facility and I feel we have a good, fresh generation of young coaches working with our players. Everything is set up for the youngsters and Chelsea and I hope we bring through lots of great players.

What will be your memories of being part of the Premier League’s history?

FL: I love playing in the Premier League. It’s no secret I nearly went to Italy with Jose [Mourinho] and I would have liked to have seen what it was like playing in a totally different league. But I’ve no regrets as the Premier League is watched all over the world and it’s great that people enjoy what we do. To play in the Roman Abramovich years at Chelsea has been incredible. He gave us the chance to challenge for all the honours and it’s been a real pleasure.