Chicago Fire, Premier Skills begin year-long community activation initiative in Little Village

Club begins year-long partnership with Premier Skills, British Council Saturday

CHICAGO (June 23, 2014) — The Chicago Fire Soccer Club Practice in the Community, presented by University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System, will kick-off a full year of community activation Saturday, June 28 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the Ortiz de Dominguez Elementary School in Little Village (31st & Lawndale).  The event will launch Premier Skills USA, a year-long, community-based initiative that will utilize world-class soccer expertise to engage youth and help them develop skills for a brighter future. Premier Skills, which will make its North American debut in Chicago, is slated to begin community soccer sessions at the same location this July.

“As we look to continue our investment in the local community, we couldn’t be more thrilled to partner with such quality organizations to bring this opportunity to Chicago,” said Chicago Fire Chief Operating Officer Atul Khosla. “We look forward to working collectively through the Premier Skills platform to provide our community’s youth with greater chances at a better life.”

The Practice in the Community is free of charge and open to the public.  Highlights include the opportunity to watch a first team training session, FireFest interactive elements, as well as autograph and picture opportunities.  Premier Skills USA representatives will also be on hand to offer young people the chance to sign-up to the soccer sessions starting in July.

Originally launched in 2007, Premier Skills is a global partnership between the Premier League and the British Council which uses the powerful brand and expertise of the Premier League and the global reach of the British Council to help marginalized youth develop skills and tackle a variety of social issues, such as social and emotional development, health, education, disability and inclusion. The program also works with young people to decrease anti-social behavior and gang-related violence.  For the program’s extension in Little Village, the Fire has teamed up with the British Council, English Premier League, Beyond the Ball, Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago, World Sport Chicago and the Chicago Park District.

“We believe this is a program that Chicago can significantly benefit from as it will offer our youth a safe, healthy playing environment and allow them to build the confidence, aspirations and skills to develop into productive young adults,” said Jessica Yavitz, Chicago Fire Senior Director of Community Relations and Executive Director of the Chicago Fire Foundation. “We are especially excited to be the first North American site for Premier Skills, and look forward to introducing this exciting new initiative to the Little Village community later this month.”

ABOUT PREMIER SKILLS IN U.S.

Premier Skills is a partnership between the Premier League and the British Council that uses football as a tool to engage with and develop the skills of young people. It draws upon the Premier League’s global appeal and expertise in delivering community programs in the UK, alongside the British Council’s global network, track record of delivery and world-class expertise in English. In the US, Premier Skills is run with support, expertise and program experience of local partners Beyond the Ball, Boys & Girls Club Chicago  ̶  Little Village, Chicago Fire Soccer Club, Chicago Park District, and World Sport Chicago; and in association with Major League Soccer. Premier Skills is a proven model, having already delivered tremendous impact in 25 countries up to 2014: Afghanistan, Botswana, Brazil, Cameroon, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Korea, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia (including Libyan participants), Uganda, Vietnam and Zambia. For more on Premier Skills visit www.britishcouncil.org/society/sport/current-programmes/premier-skills. To find more and download free, compelling learning materials, drawing on football-based content from the most exciting football league in the world, visit premierskills.britishcouncil.org.

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 are a Royal Charter charity, established as the UK’s international organization for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We work in more than 100 countries, and our 7,000 staff – including 2,000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals, policy makers and millions of young people every year through English, arts, education and society programmes. We earn over 75% of our annual turnover of £739 million from services which customers pay for, education and development contracts we bid for and from partnerships. A UK Government grant provides the remaining 25%. We match every £1 of core public funding with over £3 earned in pursuit of our charitable purpose. For more information, please visit: www.britishcouncil.org. You can also keep in touch with the British Council on Twitter @BritishCouncil and http://blog.britishcouncil.org.

ABOUT THE PREMIER LEAGUE

The Barclays Premier League is the biggest continuous annual global sporting event in the world. Last season more than 13.6m fans attended matches with average stadium occupancy in excess of 95%, the fourth season in a row it was above 92%. Across nine months of the year 380 matches are viewed in 212 territories worldwide. Coverage of the matches is available in approximately 804m households. The Premier League is involved in a wide range of community projects both in the UK and overseas. For more information on these, see the latest Creating Chances report here

ABOUT THE CHICAGO FIRE FOUNDATION

The Chicago Fire's goal on the field is to play hard and win. Its goal off the field is to contribute to the quality of life in Chicago and its surrounding communities. Through the Chicago Fire Foundation, the Fire is able to give back to the community by developing programs that reach out to Chicagoland's community. Since 1998, the Chicago Fire Foundation, the charitable arm of the Chicago Fire Major League Soccer Team, has made significant contributions to enhance the lives of disadvantaged youth throughout Chicagoland. To date, the Foundation has donated more than $1.5 million dollars in grants and contributions. The Chicago Fire Foundation raises funds through events such as the annual Season Kickoff Luncheon, the Commemorative Jersey Auction, and 50/50 Raffle. For more information about the Chicago Fire Foundation, visit www.chicago-fire.com/community.