By Chris Onuoha
It was a moment of bliss for some Nigerian coaches who were presented certificates after completion of coaching course sponsored by Premier skills in collaboration with British Council held on Saturday March 10 at Meadow Halls School Lekki, Lagos.
Dignitaries in attendance include Deputy Governor of Lagos State represented by Mrs. Solarin Margaret; Chairman, Lagos State Football Association, Seyi Akinwumi; Chairman, Lagos State Sports Commission Dr. Kweku Tandoh; Lucy Pearson, Country Director, British Council Nigeria, members of the Kano State Football Association and others.
The project in Nigeria was led by Premier League Coach Educator Graham Robinson, supported by Jack Day UK Club coach from Stoke City Community Trust. The course was jointly organised by the British Council and the Premier League with the support of Lagos State Football Association, Lagos State Ministry of Education, Kano State Football Association, Kano State Sports Commission and the Kano State Ministry of Education.
The Phase 2 training ran from 5 to 10 of March at designated venues and Saturday ceremony was the grand finale for the five-day event characterized by rigorous training on how to scale-up coaching technicalities as well as on-the-field skills for students. In attendance were reputable sports dignitaries and politicians who gave unreserved impressions at the end of the awards.
Since its first edition in Nigeria in August 2012, the premier skills initiative in conjunction with the British Council Nigeria has consistently organised training programmes for Nigerian coaches and students from football academies. Participants made up of the 33 grassroots football coaches chosen from Lagos and Kano States who completed the training where issued certificates of completion.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Kweku Tandoh, Executive Chairman, Lagos State Sports Commission remarked that it is a welcome development. “One of the things we are focusing on in Lagos State is the development of talents and development of talents involves first of all, mass participation by all. It involves people who will be able to identify talents and also, people who will be able to nurture talents. The Premier Skills is directed at imbibing the right skills in coaches to enable them, not just to identify football talents but also to be able to train them for the next level.”
Continuing, Tandoh said, “It is also important that our coaches and scouts have the right skills to impact upon the children, talents that they are identifying. This is indeed a welcoming programme for football and one of the things that we are also going to look at is to do this for other sports. How we can train coaches and scouts and give them the basic skills that they require so that they will be able to impact professional and technical knowledge to our children”.
Responding to questions on when the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) could take the outstanding initiative across the length and breadth of the nation, Chairman, Lagos State Football Association and former vice president of the Nigeria Football Federation, Seyi Akinwumi said, “ We need to move swiftly and also move cautiously too. What we have here in Lagos State are things that bring rapid development. The State is lucky I am the chairman of the youth development committee of the NFF. We have slowly transported to the NFF. We need to convince our partners to expand in that regard. We are doing it slowly but we will get there.”
The programme aims to use 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.
Premier Skills has been running in Nigeria since August 2012, building strong partnership with the Lagos State Football Association and widening its partner engagement and ministry networks to train 271 coaches, 77 referees and over 22,902 young people since it started.