Montserratâ€™s national football team has been busy training at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East Londonâ€™s Enfield Centre all last week in preparation for a major international tournament.
The team from the small Caribbean island has played in the last two FIFA World Cup qualifying competitions - and plans to prove it’s quality, not size, that counts when it comes to football.
One of the College’s Sports and Fitness lecturers, Peter Theori, is Assistant Manager and coach to the athletes ahead of the 2010 Caribbean Championship, with their first match next Tuesday, 6 October.
The link to the College’s Enfield Centre stems from a personal connection, as Peter explained:”I played for a team in a London league, and became friends with another player, Kenny Dyer, who is now the manager of Montserrat. He knew I had coaching skills and qualifications, so he asked me to help out.”
Kenny Dyer, whose professional career saw him play for three seasons in the Cypriot first division, has a Montserratian father, and was born in Hackney. At 46, he was the oldest player to take part in the last World Cup qualifying tournament. He said: “It’s obviously difficult as a small country, but we’re set up now to get some results and maybe cause an upset or two. It’s the first time in the UK for a lot of our home-based players, and they’re really enjoying the hospitality and facilities they’ve had at the College.”
Paying tribute to Peter’s input, Kenny said: “He brings enthusiasm and knowledge, and he’s made my job a lot easier. If I were manager of Brazil, I’d still have Peter as my number two!”
One of the team’s star players, Junior Mendes, who played professionally for a number of English and Scottish clubs, agreed: “Peter’s been a great help – he’s got good technical coaching ability, and he’s brilliant at motivating the players. It’s great to have him around.”
Vincent Cassell, President of the Montserrat Football Association, who is travelling with the squad, said: “We’re grateful to Peter and the College for arranging these facilities – the pitches are in great condition. Even the rain is quite useful – it’s raining in St. Vincent in the Caribbean at the moment – though it is warmer there than it is here!”
Tulay Rashid, the College’s Assistant Director for 14-19, said: “We’ve invested heavily in our football facilities. Our Football Academy - in partnership with Boreham Wood FC – is highly successful at helping promising footballers to learn a trade whilst developing their playing skills.”
The College’s Academy players are delighted to have the opportunity to train with the Montserratian team.
The island was in the headlines in the 1990s, when a series of volcanic eruptions forced many of the inhabitants to leave the island, which is a British overseas territory. London and other British cities now have sizeable Montserratian communities as a result.
The connection explains the team’s decision to hold a training camp in London, where they also hope to attract UK-based players with Montserratian parentage to join up with the squad.