The Chelsea Foundation have joined forces with Universal Language to give those who have recently moved to England the opportunity to play football and improve their English.
Universal Language was created by Djibril Ayofe, who came up with the idea of using football to help people learn English having struggled to take instructions on the football pitch following his move to England.
The Foundation recently approached Universal Language and now support the project by giving the participants 90 minutes a week of English lessons and 90 minutes of football coaching.
Ayofe said: ‘I came up with the idea of Universal Language to help people with their English through football.
‘I joined a football team a long time ago, my football was good but I couldn’t take instruction on the pitch so I found it difficult to play.
‘I started making new friends and then I had an opportunity to bring people together and help them practice English through football.’
Foundation coach Joe O’Sullivan said: ‘The universal programme works with people aged 15-18 who have been in the country less than a year.
‘How we support them is we offer them 90 minutes a week of English language classes and then 90 minutes of football coaching.’
Universal Language mentor Jack Pryor said: ‘Football is a universal language. If you drop a ball anywhere around the world, people know what it is and we use this with Universal Language.
‘We have people from all around the world and the incentive is that you get to play football and learn English.
‘It helps people that are new to a country that don’t have a lot of friends or a strong support network to create one.
‘The collaboration with Chelsea has been really exciting. They spoke to us and said they really like the structure and the idea of this programme and they’d like to come on board and support it.
‘The sessions may include conversations about favourite football players and people that were struggling to speak English 10 minutes ago, all of a sudden they are speaking great English just to get their passion across.’
Universal Language participant Mohamed Hussein said: ‘Universal Language is really helping us because we are improving our English and we are playing football and getting better at our skills.
‘Working with the Chelsea coaches is great, they are so helpful and are pushing us to get better and I really love it.’