The Stanley Matthews football project in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was initiated in March 2019. The project focuses on teaching and supporting the Myanmar refugee community. In Malaysia today there are an estimated 170,000 refugees, 150,000 of those are from Myanmar. Many flee their homes due to religious persecution, forced labour and human rights violations.

The project began with seven teenagers who attend CSO, a refugee school in Kuala Lumpur. Since then it has grown to having over 30 participants including 14 Rohingya boys and eight boys from a local Tamil orphanage. The session runs from 4-6pm every Saturday afternoon at a local International School. Each training session is based around a theme such as combination play or attacking overloads and we will develop that theme from learning technical skills through to applying them in small sided games. We finish each session with a short team talk or group activity based on a specific life skill such as Teamwork or Respect. We discuss how to apply theses skills at home, school and on the football field.

John, the head teacher of CSO has been delighted by the many benefits the project has brought to his students. It’s been over a year since the project launch and this is what he had to say: “My students really appreciate the Stanley Matthews Foundation football coaching sessions because they have never been coached in sport before and have never had anyone to teach them how to play football. Whenever it's time for football training, they're so excited. They enjoy training, learning new skills and being with the Foundation Coaches."

Through the sessions they have learnt important life skills such as team work. They used to play football and keep the ball and be selfish and play on their own. But after receiving training and chatting to the coaches, they have learnt how to work as a team. They have also learnt about respecting their teammates, working hard, listening to their teammates and the importance of humility. In the classroom as well they now work as a team and have improved their communication skills.

Two boys, Sam and Joseph have developed leadership skills through training, they have learnt to listen to what other people say and what their leaders say and have learnt to accept their skills and advice.”

© 2020 Sir Stanley Matthews Foundation.