Penguins Stopped Play meets Cool Runnings in this hilarious and uplifting true story of footballing triumph against all the odds, set on a Pacific island.
After one too many late night discussions, football journalist Paul Watson and his mate Matthew Conrad decide to find the world's worst national team, become naturalised citizens of that country and play for them - achieving their joint boyhood dream of playing international football and winning a 'cap'. They are thrilled when Wikipedia leads them to Pohnpei, a tiny, remote island in the Pacific whose long-defunct football team is described as 'the weakest in the world'. They contact Pohnpei's Football Association and discover what it needs most urgently is leadership. So Paul and Matt travel thousands of miles, leaving behind jobs, families and girlfriends to train a rag-tag bunch of novice footballers who barely understand the rules of the game.
Up Pohnpei tells the story of their quest to coach the team and eventually, organise an international fixture - Pohnpei's first since a 16-1 defeat many years ago. With no funding, a population whose obesity rate is 90 percent and toad-infested facilities in one of the world's wettest climates, their journey is beset by obstacles from the outset. Part travelogue, part quest, Up Pohnpei shows how the passion and determination of two young men can change the face of football - and the lives of total strangers - on the other side of the world.
Paul Watson is the youngest international football coach in the world. Before taking up coaching, he worked as a journalist for Football Italia. He lives in London.
'Full of charm and pathos as Watson's love for grassroots football in all its colours shines through. Funny without being condescending or smug, it's a refreshing counterpoint to the commercial excesses of the English Premiership.', The Big Issue
'In a market saturated with in-depth analyses of how money rules the game, sitting alongside prematurely-released autobiographies from prima donnas keen to detail their difficult Cristal-drinking existences, Up Pohnpei stands out as a shining beacon of football literature, oozing moral fibre and radiating the pure light of the sport for all to consume... A heartwarming, uplifting antithesis to all that is wrong with the modern game, Up Pohnpei is the must-read football book of 2012.', Mark Lomas, ESPN Soccernet
'This book is brilliant. It embodies the true spirit of football: to bring people together.', James Corden