Bambisanani, British Council and the Premier League team up for beautiful game in South Africa that is changing lives

This year the Bambisanani Partnership became involved in the British Council and Premier League Premier Skills initiative.

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Now in its twelfth year the Bambisanani Partnership has gained international acclaim for its work in the rural Nkandla area of South Africa using sport as a catalyst to promote education, health, global citizenship and leadership. From the very first visit by Founder, David Geldart, it was clear that despite lack of equipment, kit or facilities, football was of enormous importance to the Zulu community. Since that time the partnership has worked hard to use this fact to develop the game itself in the area but also to use to promote other aspects of education particularly English/Literacy through football. An example of this has been using football related books to teach reading.

This year the Bambisanani Partnership became involved in the British Council and Premier League Premier Skills initiative. Premier Skills has two distinct strands of its international work: developing local football coaches and teaching English through football related resources. All the volunteers who visited South Africa from St. Mary’s School, Menston, the University of Leeds and Leeds Trinity University received training from Michael Houten from the British Council in use of the resources. In South Africa members of the Mnyakanya School and wider Nkandla community began training as football coaches with Premier League Coach Educators in courses held in Durban. Both strands of this work have proved incredibly effective and have added much to the impact of the partnership.

The Premier Skills resources were used to great effect by students at the John Wesley School in Eshowe and in Ntolwane Primary School in Nkandla.

“Premier Skills teaches English/Literacy through a range of football related resources eg the use of comics based on a young boy becoming a ‘soccer star’. It uses language that is simple but effective and allows children who speak English as an additional language to follow along, even if they can’t read the words. Even the children who were quite new to English could still say ‘you should eat fruit, you should eat vegetables’, and they could get that simple English. The children that were at a higher level could expand and speak for five minutes on the topic. The youngsters absolutely loved the fact that I was using a comic book because they almost didn’t see it as learning. They loved that it was about soccer because they could tell me about their favourite soccer team and they could ask me about mine. Premier Skills resources for teaching English/Literacy are excellent and can be used effectively in a variety of contexts.”
— Trainee Primary School teacher, Harriet Mackinney, from Leeds Trinity University

Members of the Nkandla community, Thulisile Zuma and Mholi Hlabisa have progressed to the second level of the Premier Skills Coaching programming where they have received training in the coach education of others.

“Attending the Premier Skills workshops helped me a lot as a young coach. I learned so much about training all kinds of people regardless of their ability or disability. The focus of our training was not just improving our ability to coach football but also on developing our confidence in communication. I will be able to pass on all that I have learned to people in my community so that we can work together as a team to promote football and other sports thus helping our youth to avoid involving themselves in criminal activities. Involving our community in sporting activities will also promote healthier lifestyles. We are also hoping that the skills we are passing on will help young people gain employment.”
— Mholi Hlabisa
“Premier Skills has helped me develop my love of sport as a person. To be part of the Premier Skills training workshops has helped me to organise football tournaments back in my community for both boys and girls so they can develop their talent in sport. Football helps our young people to forget about involving themselves in substance abuse and crime but makes them think about their bright future in sport. In Premier Skills training we learned to work with other coaches to develop our coaching skills. We also learned about Child Protection, on how to organise tournaments and how to train other coaches. This is all going to add so much to my community where there is real passion for sport. We have started now to develop football teams in the community.”
— Thulisile Zuma
“Both these aspects of Premier Skills have the potential to make a significant impact on our young people in the rural schools and the wider communities. They are already starting to make a difference.”
— Mrs Pk Zondi, Bambisanani Coordinator at Mnyakanya School
“These programmes are so positive and are not only providing valuable education and skills but also aspiration and hope in this desperately poor area. Both elements are vitally important and we try and link them at every possible opportunity. In the year ahead we will continue to work with the British Council and Premier League with a specific focus on training more football coaches, coach educators and more local teachers in the use of the Literacy materials. Community football teams are already starting to emerge. We also hope to create a ‘proper’ football pitch for training and fixtures and a computer suite where teachers and pupils can access Premier Skills English Language resources online. Football really is a beautiful game!”
— David Geldart, Founder of the Bambisanani Partnership