The Premier League celebrated a successful week supporting grassroots football in Beijing with the Community Festival, the culmination of a week's worth of daily developmental sessions with 44 physical education teachers and 96 children from Beijing.
A key feature of the Barclays Asia Trophy taking place in Beijing this week has been to pass on some of the Premier League's knowledge and expertise in running a successful competition that has grown to be internationally renowned.
The Premier League has run two courses aimed at leaving a lasting legacy for grassroots football in China. Since last Friday (24 July) the Premier League has been running one of its innovative Premier Skills coaching courses. Running parallel to that from Saturday (25 July) has been the Creating Chances Community Programme for 10-13 year-old children. The Premier League has worked in close partnership with the Beijing Football Association on both initiatives.
Premier Skills is an international coaching development project run by the Premier League and the British Council. It provides week-long courses to coach coaches at grassroots level in the morning and afternoon workshops on coaching best practice and community sport development. At the end of the projectl, the coaches return to use their new skills in their local communities. A community coach from each of the three Premier League Clubs participating in the Barclays Asia Trophy - Hull City, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United - helped in the course, which was run by former Premier League player Warren Barton.
Training took place at the Changping Sports Bureau. The 44 physical education teachers from 19 primary schools and 25 secondary schools in both urban and rural areas around Beijing received football coaching training and also learnt about leadership and coaching skills, fitness, nutrition and sports event management. As such, the project strongly accords with current education trends in China focusing on ‘whole student' development.
For the Creating Chances Community Programme, a group of 96 local children - a mixture of 64 boys and 32 girls - received three hours of coaching each day. Using the Creating Chances model that the Premier League run in England, the children were not only taught football skills but also learned about healthy lifestyles and personal development.
The two courses culminated on Thursday with the Barclays Asia Trophy Creating Chances Community Festival. The Premier Skills coaches hosted a special skills session with the children from the Community Programme. Joining them were players and coaching staff from the participating Premier League Clubs.
Jermaine Jenas, Vedran Corluka and Danny Rose attended the event on our behalf.
Premier League Chief Executive, Richard Scudamore, said: "The Premier League is committed to using the excitement and interest football generates to encourage grass roots participation, education and social development.
"In England, all 20 of our clubs do excellent work in their communities, so it is only right that where we are popular and can make a difference that we use the power of football to make a change.
"This is what Warren Barton, Premier Skills Head Coach, and Simon Morgan, Premier League Head of Community, have been doing all this week along with coaches from Hull City, West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur - taking the skills they have learned working with their communities and passing them on to teachers and children in Beijing.
"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 Changping District Education Committee, the Beijing Sports Bureau and the Beijing Football Association have all contributed to making this week work - not only now, but to leave a lasting legacy of skills in coaching and education.
"This Community Festival really showcases all the hard work that has been put in by the 44 coaches and 96 children - I am sure they have taken a lot from the week, and hopefully had some fun too."
Warren Barton, Premier Skills Head Coach, also paid tribute to all those contributing in Premier Skills: "It's been a privilege for the coaches and myself to be involved this week as the students have been at the highest level we've experienced in all the Premier Skills projects that have taken place over the last two years.
"From this they can take on the knowledge and experiences that the Premier Skills coaches have given them into their communities and into the development of football in China. Hopefully in years to come they'll be running their own football clinics.
"It's not been an easy week for them, as it's been physically demanding doing four hour sessions every day since last Friday, but their enthusiasm has always been second to none. They realise this is a great opportunity for them and it will hopefully give them prestige for their future careers. It's been a great opportunity to get involved with the British Council and the Premier League and I know all the students have thoroughly enjoyed it."
Rashid Abba, Creating Chances Head Coach, claimed that this has been a very valuable week for all concerned with the Creating Chances Community Programme.
"This has been a very successful project," he said. "The pupils have attended every single day without fail, attending from 8-11 in the morning. What we've been teaching the young children is the basics of football. So we've taught them how to pass, dribble and shoot the ball. In between the sessions we delivered question and answer workshops, so finding out what they've learnt but also more technical things like what muscle groups are used in football and their diet.
"We discussed the kind of food they need to eat and why to drink fluids playing football, and also why do we do warm-ups and cool-downs. Finally, to introduce them to a game situation, we encouraged them to play small-sided games.
"The project has been a two-way education for the children as well as the coaches, and even the translators. We have learnt important things about Chinese culture and some Mandarin, they've learnt about where we come from and also some basic English words. We have to congratulate the players on their attitude, which has been fantastic. They've been model pupils who have done what we've told them because they have wanted to learn. They have been a very good group to run and we've enjoyed working with them. We hope that the benefits of this will be felt for a long time both here in Beijing and at the Premier League."
Martin Davidson, Chief Executive of the British Council, said: "We are proud of Premier Skills, our partnership with the Premier League and I am delighted that this unique project, which combines English and football - two truly universal languages - has arrived in China.
"I know first-hand that there is huge demand for English in China and that interest in the Premier League is bigger than ever. Next month we will launch the Premier Skills website which will give millions of learners and teachers around the world an opportunity to improve their English and learn more about their favourite Premier League teams and players. Using new approaches to English learning and providing the latest and most dynamic learning, teaching and practice materials is central to our work in China."
In addition to Premier Skills and the Creating Chances Community Programme running this week the Premier League also ran a refereeing workshop with 50 local officials from the Beijing Football Association.
Premier League officials Andre Marriner, Martin Atkinson, Darren McCann and Phil Sharp ran a session where they did presentations and question and answer sessions with Chinese officials on some of the keys laws of the game such as offside, denial of a goal-scoring opportunity and serious foul play.