26 July 2011


KUALA LUMPUR – The Premier League’s leading international grassroots football project Premier Skills, run in partnership with the British Council, and in exclusive association with Tune Group in Malaysia, launched a new referee development course recently.

This ‘Introduction to Refereeing’ course focused on training 32 new grassroots referees, whose selection was endorsed by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM). The course took place from 17 July to the 22 July 2011 at Garden International School and was led by Keith Hackett, a former international FIFA referee and previously head of the body responsible for all professional referees in England - the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL).

He was joined by Paul Rejer, who is the PGMOL’s Select Group Assistant Referee Manager. In this role Paul coaches England’s top assistant referees, including Darren Cann and Mike Mullarkey, who were the assistant referees in the FIFA World Cup Final and UEFA European Champions League Final in 2010.

Led by the expertise of the two trainers, the Malaysian referees strengthened their knowledge and understanding of how to become a better referee, receiving guidance on the rules of the game, and improving their communication skills. The training included a mix of practical pitch-based sessions in the morning and classroom workshops in the afternoon.

The long term aim of the Premier Skills Referee project in Malaysia is to develop a number of new Malaysian referees, with those who show the greatest potential when passing through the programme possibly taking on a role of referee ‘master trainer’ themselves, passing on their knowledge to others and embedding the project in the country long term.

Premier League Referee Ambassador Keith Hackett said he was thrilled to be involved in Premier Skills in Malaysia:

“Premier Skills has clearly had a huge impact on football coaching all over the world, developing over 1,000 new coaches in 15 different countries. It is exciting to now be heading up this new referee element to the project.

“Referees are a key part of football at any level it is played.  Through Premier Skills we plan to encourage a new generation of referees to get into the game.”

Hackett added that he was delighted to be working with Tune Group again.

“Tune Group, through its sponsorship, has greatly assisted in the education and development of Referees in England.

“We continue to wear their logo with pride and are delighted that they are now supporting the development of referees around the world through the Premier Skills programme,” he said.

British Council Malaysia Director of Education and Programmes Peter Clack said that the purpose is to connect people in the UK to people in other countries and football is a great way to do that.

“We are therefore 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 Malaysia.

“This brand new course in referee development will help to train grassroot level referees in the skills of the profession whilst at the same time enabling them to make a real impact on the issues and challenges facing their communities,” said Clack.

Tune Hotels Group Chief Executive Officer Mark Lankester said on behalf of Tune Group said this is a natural extension of their partnership with the PGMOL that features the Tune Group armband worn by match officials during Barclays Premier League matches that has grabbed the attention of football fans globally.

“Local community coaches and referees will have the rare opportunity to learn from renowned match officials and gain valuable knowledge, experience and skills directly from them.

“It is about bringing the world’s best for the benefit of our local referees,” he said.

The Premier Skills project is an innovative international project run by the Premier League and the British Council, using the power of football to build a brighter future for young people around the world. It combines the Premier League's proven expertise in delivering community focused football projects with the British Council's on the ground presence and unrivalled experience of developing and implementing cultural relations programmes worldwide.

Alongside the refereeing component, Premier Skills has already helped develop over 1,000 new community coaches in 17 countries around the world. Monitoring of the work that these coaches have subsequently gone on to deliver revealed that they have put their newly acquired skills to use with over 300,000 youngsters worldwide.

Notes to Editor


Premier Skills is a collaborative project between the Premier League and the British Council, which uses football (and the interest there is in the Premier League) as a tool to help develop both community coaching and English language skills. 

  • A range of football-based English language learning materials that include a dedicated Premier Skills website have been created under the programme. These include downloadable resources for teachers and learners and a Premier Skills self-access schools pack, providing materials for teachers and learners of English. These resources enable people around the world to develop and build upon their English language skills. The resources also use the motivational power of football to develop classroom materials that allow teachers and learners to explore key social issues such as health and social inclusion.
  • The community coaching side of the project was piloted in Egypt and India in late 2007 and early 2008. Thereafter projects were delivered across Africa (in Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Senegal, Sudan, Tunisia and Uganda), in India (New Delhi, Kolkata, Goa and Kerala) and across Asia (China, Malaysia, South Korea and Vietnam). Second phase courses then took place in India, Egypt, Kenya, China, Vietnam and Uganda.
  • Premier Skills has already achieved huge impact, with 1,000 coaches trained, nearly 300,000 young people reached, and over one million football-focused English language materials distributed globally.
  • The Premier League is involved in a wide range of community projects both in the UK and overseas. For more information on these read the Premier League’s latest Creating Chances Report.


About the British Council

The British Council creates international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide. We call this cultural relations.

We build trust and understanding for the UK to create a safer and more prosperous world. In terms of our reach and impact, we are the world’s leading cultural relations organisation. Cultural relations is a component of international relations which focuses on developing people-to-people links and complements government-to-people and government-to-government contact. We use English, Arts, and Education and Society – the best of the UK’s great cultural assets – to bring people together and to attract partners to working with the UK. The British Council has over 7,000 staff working in 191 offices in 110 countries and territories.

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