Madejski Stadium to Majees
Reading Football Club is delighted to be the partner club for the unique Kickworldwide Outreach Programme in Oman.
The Outreach Programme includes a presentation team, complete with Royals branding and promotion materials, visiting a different primary school each day for five days per week for thirty six weeks of the year. Each of these presentations is attended by an average of 200 children aged between 6 and 12 creating huge interest in the club. The presentations are used to educate the children, using Reading FC and ex footballers as role models, about the importance of teamwork, being friendly and caring in the community, eating healthily and getting regular exercise. The fun presentation also tackles the importance of road safety (a huge issue in the Middle East) and warns against the dangers of alcohol, smoking and drugs.
Each child receives a 44 page full colour booklet in Arabic and English to reinforce the messages and also to advise the parents about the visit made by the club and the Kickworldwide team. The booklet also includes information about Reading FC and encourages the children to become supporters of the Royals. The programme is being funded by a quartet of companies in the Sultanate, namely, Nawras, Orpic, Sohar Aluminium and Vale.
Royals CEO, Nigel Howe, joined Director, Chris Samuelson at one of the presentations in the northern city of Majees in Oman last month, and was on hand to present scarves and badges to some of the participating children. The duo were then special guests of the Oman Football Association at the World Cup qualifier between Oman and Japan that the visitors edged 2-1.
The Outreach Programme will soon move to the next stage where it will develop hundreds of young leaders in the Omani secondary schools. These 13 to 16 year olds will be educated on a specially converted British double decker bus bearing the Reading FC logo, and will be given the opportunity to complete coaching and refereeing courses - with some being offered scholarships in other sports related courses at Kickworldwide’s Institute in the capital Muscat.
Some of these talented youngsters may also be given the opportunity to continue their studies in the UK and watch the Royals in action.
Kickworldwide Director Steve Bellis, speaking about the partnership with Reading, commented “Having an English Premier League club like Reading on board makes a huge difference to this programme. It is refreshing to work with a club that, despite its recent on field success, is still dedicated to playing an important and genuine role in the community, both in the UK and in overseas markets like the Middle East. This long term approach to international markets will undoubtedly serve the club well and, as well as making many friends, the club will also significantly enhance its supporter base in one of the world’s biggest football markets. It is an honour to work with a club of such integrity and the thousands of children that benefit from this programme will never forget the Royals.”
Royals CEO, Nigel Howe added “Being a Premier League club gives us a fantastic opportunity to build on the already outstanding community work we carry out in the UK – and of course to raise our profile abroad. We now have the chance to reach out around the globe, and this trip proved how much passion there is for football in the Middle East. The children responded brilliantly to the programme and from what we saw it will continue to be a success in the future.”
Sheikh Hazzaa Al Saadi, the General Secretary of the Oman Football Association is delighted by the decision by Reading to support the Outreach Programme, he said “Everyone in Middle East knows the English Premier League and here in Oman we have thousands of young football supporters following the games on television. To be given the opportunity to meet people from a Premier League club and have daily interaction with the Royals brands is great for our young people. We hope that this is just the start of a long term relationship with Reading FC and we are deeply grateful for their support of this extremely important initiative.”
The long term strategy employed by the club is a far cry from the short term commercial tours that have dominated the international approach by many clubs for so long. Reading firmly believes that by adopting such a long term grass root approach, the benefits will be greater and much more sustainable.