Chris NeeComment


Chris NeeComment

When he was about 14, my friend drew up a list of things he wanted to achieve in life. He appeared on the radio without too many problems; in fact, he wrote radio ads for a living for a while. He got his work in print, a tricky task but one within reach of writers with his talent and depth of knowledge. Various other targets have been achieved but he has not yet played international football.

The dream of winning a cap led him to fixate briefly on Vanuatu, a team he felt was sufficiently low down the FIFA pecking order to afford him an opportunity. Paul Watson has put him in his place by looking beyond FIFA and, crucially, actually going through with a plan that was a little bit bonkers.

Up Pohnpei is the story of Paul's spell as the coach of the Pohnpei national team, a journey that began with a typical football fan conversation with his flatmate, Matthew Conrad, but resulted in a bold move to the Federated States of Micronesia and a genuine effect on football on the island. As Pohnpei's rookie coach Paul influenced local and regional football officials, improved the training and competitive opportunities for local players and made a real impact on the lives of more than a few football-loving Pohnpeians.

Of course, the result of all this hard work for you and I is a book, well-written and quick of pace, which details Paul's adventure and presents the problems facing the game in corners unreached by FIFA in a way that's easy and entertaining to read and creates with it a good deal of jealousy and admiration. We recommend getting yourself a copy of Up Pohnpei, but don't expect it to hang around for too long - IBWM read it in a matter of hours because it's a fascinating story and leaves no room for filler. Top marks.

Up Pohnpei by Paul Watson was published by Profile Books.