Chisholm making progress in Africa

We check in with Sunderland's International Development Coach.

Former Sunderland player Gordon Chisholm is now helping the club to expand off the pitch in his role as the Black Cats' International Development Coach.

The Glasgow-born 53-year-old is responsible for helping to develop the club's footballing partnerships across the world, with a major focus upon Africa.

Sunderland already boast two partner clubs on the continent – South African side Bidvest Wits and Ghanaian champions Asante Kotoko.

Chisholm, who made almost 200 league appearances for Sunderland between 1978 and 1985, has plenty of experience to pass on having managed Dundee, Dundee United and Queen of the South in his native Scotland following a long playing career.

And he is enjoying the chance to help make a difference in a global role as part of Sunderland's focus on international development.

“I've been doing a lot of work out in Africa with our partners, and I'm there to assist in any way I can,” said Chisholm, who took on the role in November last year.

“I've been working with both Bidvest Wits and Asante Kotoko on the Academy side and spending quite a bit of time on various projects.

“As part of my role I have also provided assistance to the [Justin Haber] Academy out in Malta.

“It's all about connections. It's not British football any more – football is a global game and it's important we have our finger on the pulse and help to spread our message in a practical way.

“We are connecting with influential people in the game in Africa and beyond and trying to help make a difference.

“We work a lot with younger players – helping with football development is a big thing for us.

“Sunderland is a big name in Africa and there is always a very positive response from local people."

Chisholm will fly to Ghana this weekend to link up with club partners Kotoko, who recently secured the Ghanaian Premier League title.

He will spend time coaching and assessing the Porcupines' U18 side and will also take in the national team's game against Zambia.

Next up is a short hop to South Africa and Bidvest Wits, where Chisholm will meet the Premier League side's new head coach, Gavin Hunt.

He will also carry out coaching workshops as well as watching the Clever Boys face Ajax Cape Town.

And Chisholm says assisting the partner clubs in getting local youngsters involved in football is a key point on the agenda.

“We have no interest in saying 'we are out here in name only' – we want a real relationship with our partners and with Africa and that personal touch really helps,” he explained.

“So many kids in Africa love football and we will offer any back-up needed in helping the clubs develop their youth policies.

“We are well placed to give advice and have a lot of specialists back in the UK too, led by [Academy manager] Ged McNamee.

“The way ahead is to get youngsters involved, help them develop and deepen their relationship with the game. If that helps us to bring players through at the professional level, then great, but that is not the only focus.

“If clubs can develop players maybe from the age of 12it's going to provide many benefits. They will have professional development from an earlier age and come through with the right habits.”