Football Fans F Ly 8,000 Miles to Coach 'Worst Team in World'; UP POHNPEI LONDONERS TO PUT MICRONESIAN ISLAND ON FOOTBALL MAP

Article excerpt

Byline: Matthew Beard

TO SAY they have a mountain to climb is an understatement.

Two Londoners are flying 8,000 miles to create an international football team on the tiny Pacific island of Pohnpei.

Film student Matthew Conrad and football journalist Paul Watson are attempting to defy the odds by putting the island, with a population of 36,000, on the footballing map. Both aged 25, they are the youngest international coaches in the game's history.

Pohnpei, the largest of 600 islands in Micronesia situated 1,800 miles north of Papua New Guinea, may be admired for its rainforests but its football team, the Pitbulls, have yet to register a win.

In their last international five years ago they were beaten 16-0 by Guam. The team, described by some as the worst in the world, disbanded soon after.

Football has failed to take off on Pohnpei because the island has average annual rainfall of 300 inches. The island's national sport of basketball is, crucially, played indoors. Mr Conrad admits that he has little coaching experience and heroic failure is probably the best Pohnpei's players can hope for. He added: "We started just looking out of curiosity for the most remote places to play football and then decided that we would like to take on a real non-entity.

"We emailed numerous federations and Pohnpei got in touch with us. It's fair to say they are not very good at the moment -- they would give a typical pub team a run for their money. …