LinkedIn Pulse: Football changes lives


Yesterday I spoke at the Premier League Enterprise Challenge Final which gives football clubs, schools and young people a unique opportunity to pitch their solutions to specific football business challenges.

Kids get to meet club Chief Executives, understand the challenges of marketing, promotion, ticketing, loyalty programmes, hospitality, merchandising, filling a stadium, attracting families and building and maintaining the all-important loyal fan base which supports and enables what happens on the pitch.

For the participating youngsters it provides them with new skills, real world problems to solve and life-changing experiences – the chance to meet the people who make Premier League football one of the UK’s most attractive assets. And the great news is with the Premier League’s help we are now taking the Enterprise Challenge around the world.


Well when you think about what’s best about the UK; and what the world loves about us, you needn’t look much further than the Premier League.

Football is one of the world’s universal languages. My personal experience is people are as keen on football in Iran and Iraq as they are in Brazil and China. So the British Council has been working with football pretty much since our founding in 1934.

But in the last seven years, Premier Skills with the Premier League has taken that to a whole new level.

Premier Skills now spans 25 countries; has trained close to 3,000 coaches and has improved the lives of over half a million young people.

The Premier League aren’t just a dream brand for millions, they’re also a dream partner. As you’d imagine, the British Council has terrific people on the ground all around the globe; we have great contacts and know our countries; but the Premier League brings not only its massive appeal but also a proven track record in delivering top quality projects.

We are doing great things together. But we shouldn’t be complacent about the scale of the challenge. Most of the world’s young people are struggling to get an education, some training or a chance at employment.

Take the Middle East & North Africa. Two thirds of the population is under 30, over a third are unemployed and many of them – especially women and girls, still feel they don’t have a voice in their countries’ futures.

But when you see the self-confidence, strong role models and self-belief Premier Skills instils in women, girls, boys and men; school, civic and sporting leaders – and indeed whole communities – in places like Egypt, Tunisia, Kenya or China you know we’re making a difference.

But young people around the world need practical business skills too. That’s why the British Council and the Premier League have looked to incorporate the Enterprise Challenge into our international work.

And we’ve already reached Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Botswana, Vietnam, South Korea and Malaysia, with a taste from UK club experts like Chris Hooker, from Sunderland FC’s Foundation of Light of the practical business and work opportunities which sport management can bring to communities. The winning team was Vietnam – as you can see in the picture above. When football clubs, the British Council and the Premier League are part of the line-up, we make a terrific team.

But best of all, is seeing youngsters from across the UK and from around the world who have worked together, drawn upon the strengths of each team member and developed new skills as they went through it – leadership, presenting, IT, and boosting their own confidence and self-esteem; all through the power of football.

Football thrives on teamwork, enterprise and fair play – and they’re not bad values for the UK to share more widely around the world; as well as work on here at home.

I’m proud to be part of what the UK, the British Council and the Premier League are doing to make our contribution to a better world.

If you’d like to be part of it, try

The British Council is looking for people like you.