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TOTALLY RANDOM

Young soccer coach prepares for the worst

Paul Watson, at 25, takes on the cause of the team from Pohnpei, a tiny Pacific island with a population of 34,000. The squad has never won a match.

September 04, 2009|Mike Penner

Paul Watson is 25, an amateur soccer player from London, a freelance journalist and now, the youngest national soccer coach in the world.

It's an impressive achievement until one realizes Watson is coaching perhaps the worst national team in the world, Pohnpei.

Pohnpei, a tiny Pacific island with a population of 34,000, has never won a match. The closest it has come to victory was a 5-4 loss on penalties against rival island Yap.

Despite a recent 16-1 thrashing by Guam, Watson and his friend Matthew Conrad believe they can turn the program around.

"By chance we heard the country didn't have a coach at the moment and were looking for someone to take over," Watson told the Daily Telegraph. "Like idiots we said we would consider it. . . . Unfortunately they are the worst team in the world, but I don't think they will be for much longer. With training they'll improve dramatically."

One Pohnpei player walks 1 1/2 hours without shoes just to get to practice.

"That's why we are so keen to help them out and why we are appealing for sponsors to donate shoes and" uniforms, Watson said.

Trivia time

Who is the only hockey player to wear every Kings jersey that has existed?

Meet the Flintstones

After suffering a concussion when hit in the head with a pitch Aug. 15, New York Mets third baseman David Wright returned to the lineup this week -- wearing a huge padded helmet that looked at least two sizes too big for him.

Jimmy Kimmel, in his monologue, noted Wright's return: "He looks like the bobble-head version of himself. I was looking at this picture and I think I've seen that helmet somewhere before. I finally figured it out. It's on the Great Gazoo.

"It's hard to make safety cool."

Wright went back to his old helmet on Thursday, saying the new one wasn't comfortable.

A winning drive

The Heisman Trophy? Done that.

The BCS championship game? Been there.

Any other goals for Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford?

"I've always said that before I'm done here, I'm going to blast a golf ball out of this stadium," Bradford, a scratch golfer, told Golf World. "I'd love to do it in front of 80,000 screaming fans."

Tweets of note

A couple of recent Twitter feeds: From Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison: "Sorry for lack of insightful tweets lately. My writers are on strike. labor negotiations have been tense. Cautiously optimistic we can get deal." From golfer Geoff Ogilvy: "7am tee time, 5hrs of golf, 30min of harassment from journalists, 20 min lunch, 1hr practice and finally nap time."

Trivia answer

Luc Robitaille. (Question and answer provided by reader Robert Truxton of Westchester.)

And finally

Jim Thome is a .291 career hitter with 60 home runs in 625 at-bats against the Detroit Tigers. Reacting to the trade that sent Thome to the Dodgers and the National League, Tigers Manager Jim Leyland said, "I paid for his flight out."

--

mike.penner@latimes.com

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