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Underdogs to Top Dogs,
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This review is from: Up Pohnpei: Leading the ultimate football underdogs to glory (Paperback)
I initially bought Up Pohnpei for the idea of how funny it would be to give into childhood fantasy's of wanting to play for or coach an International side, and also being a coach myself I wanted to get an insight of what other coaches do, think and feel at times.
The book initially started on that comedic tone as Matt and Paul, mainly Matt obsesses over the idea of playing football internationally, Paul starts to give into Matt and his own urges and desires to follow a childhood fantasy, and then the guys go from the sane to brave (possibly deemed insane by others,) by giving up a stable life to go and coach the tiny Micronesian Island of Pohnpei football.
After a first visit to the Island, Paul and Matt realise the task at hand is so much bigger than going over to Pohnpei and coaching a team, they have to set up a whole football infrastructure, to even achieve getting a National team in place. Things don't go Paul's way as Matt has to take a life changing career opportunity. So for the most part of the book the two man army become one, Paul has to do the leg work himself, he does have the help of a very enthusiastic football mad local Dislhan who becomes Paul's biggest asset during the battles he faces in Pohnpei itself. Paul also has bigger battles as he tries everything he can to get funding and aid from various football and sporting organisations and help from the local Micronesian states, but each time he tries he comes across more hurdles, a few of those hurdles are created by the very thing that should help him, FIFA.
Eventually Paul makes headway and with the return of his good friend Matt, they manage to get the Pohnpei national side to play in their first international fixtures under the pairs tutlage.
The book to me is a very heartfelt piece; the book becomes a very uplifting story of trials and tribulations and goes from being a story about Paul Watson and Matt Conrad to a story about the Pohnpei players and battles to gain them respect and love throughout their out Nation and in the eyes of the world football. Paul also drags you in, to not only believe in the good he's doing, but you also feel his frustration and his angst as he tries to overcome the obstacles in his way, it's a superbly written book, and one that can be enjoyed by all, not just the football fans among us.