Any mention of football and countries like Brazil, Argentina and Europe quickly come to mind.

One country that does not immediately spring to mind is Mongolia…

The coach who’s hoping to transform Mongolian football

The first trials for Bayangol FC were held in Ulan Bator

If you want a career in football, Mongolia is perhaps not the obvious place to go – but that’s exactly where British coach Paul Watson is setting up a new team entirely from scratch. He is already finding fresh talent and hopes to inspire the country’s next generation of players.

In July, Paul Watson got an email from a stranger in the Mongolian capital, Ulan Bator – Enkhjin Batsumber wanted to know if he was interested in helping him start a new football team, Bayangol FC.

The job offer didn’t come as a total shock – in the past Watson had coached the world’s lowest ranked national team on the Micronesian island of Pohnpei and had written a book about the experience.

He felt the new Mongolian Premier League “was making a massive effort to bring the game into a more modern and more Western model, and I could see there was a lot of passion”, he says.

Although watching football is very popular in Mongolia – many fans support the top European clubs – people feel it’s a “foreign phenomenon”, says Watson.

“They can’t really play, and [they feel] that playing doesn’t lead to anything… I like to take on challenges where you can actually make a bit of a difference.”

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