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Tony’s Blog – My Week In Kenya With Premier Skills

Newcastle United Foundation Football Development Officer Tony Threlfall spent a week in Kenya as part of a Premier Skills programme which tackles issues of violence against girls and women through football.

Tony’s Blog

My week in numbers:

  • 14,000 miles
  • 40 Kenyan coaches
  • 6 planes
  • 0 hippos

“My trip to Kenya with Premier Skills was to assist with a programme that uses football to tackle violence against women and girls.  We worked with 40 coaches to improve their delivery of integrated sessions incorporating football and various specialised workshops.

“I was involved to deliver separate sessions similar that incorporated playing and coaching football as well as addressing social issues.  Across the North East we use the power of football to change lives, perceptions and to support the most disadvantaged people in our community. We have been doing the same in Kenya.  We worked closely with these coaches over the week, constantly assessing them in the thematic and football delivery so at the end of the week we could identify 15 coaches who will go on to be mentors and maintain the quality of the programme when we’re not there.

“The first day was planning the week ahead with our team, Paul an experienced Premier Skills coach, Alice from the British Council, who looks after the programme in the region, Meg from Women Win, a Dutch charity, plus Kaka, Festus and Majurani who are three Kenyan coaches who had come through the programme in the previous year.

“Each day was extremely busy but hugely rewarding. The days were split with classroom and football delivery from the staff and participants.  Most days would start at 7.30am with a working breakfast, planning the day ahead of the coaches arriving at 8.15am.

“We normally finished at 5.30pm where the team would again get together to discuss the day and divide next days delivery. Football was still the main topic of discussion at the evening meal and by mid evening we would each be back in our rooms planning the sessions for the next day.

“On the last day we conducted a review of the week and identified those coaches that we felt had the potential to drive the course forward and be mentors.  We did finally manage to get a chance to go off site to Hippo Bay to see if we could spot any local wildlife – but no luck!

Despite the business of week (and not seeing any wildlife!) I had the most unbelievable week.  Sometimes at home we can think that travelling 30 minutes in a car to a session is a lifetime but in Kenya, some of these coaches are walking two hours to deliver a 45 minute session and then walking home.  My lasting memory of the trip is the enthusiasm of the coaches and their commitment to making their community safe and equal for all.

“I am due to go back twice, at the end of January and March, I can’t wait!”

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