27 Aug 2016

Sport: Cooks challenge for former Team Welly coach

7:36 pm on 27 August 2016

Matt Calcott was looking forward to spending more time with his young family before a call out of the blue led him to accept a stint as head coach of the Cook Islands Under 20 football team.

He led Team Wellington to their maiden New Zealand domestic title earlier this year and back to back runner-up finishes in the Oceania Champions League.

Team Wellington coach Matt Calcott.

Matt Calcott led Team Wellington to the New Zealand domestic title. Photo: OFC via Phototek

After five years in charge he was looking forward to a brief break from football but said the chance to test himself in a new environment was too good to turn down.

"There's a good friend of mine who's Technical Director of the Cook Islands now, Jess Ibrom, who was formerly at the Wellington Phoenix."

"He just gave me a phone a week or so ago and said they're looking for a coach, their coach is heading away to Canada, in between qualifying for the tournament and now, so I said 'yeah why not,' it's something a little bit different."

"Obviously I've had ten years of cup finals and leagues...those things tend to go right to the wire but this one is a completely different experience and (I'm) really looking forward to it," he said.

Cook Islands players celebrate after qualifying for the OFC Under 20 Championship.

Cook Islands players celebrate after qualifying for the OFC Under 20 Championship. Photo: Oceania Football

Cook Islands won the OFC Under 20 Men's Preliminary in June to qualify for the main draw in Vanuatu.

Matt Calcott admits they've got their work cut out for them in their tournament opener against hot favourites New Zealand.

"We fly in on the Tuesday and then we play New Zealand on the Saturday so they are a very tough fixture obviously but it's something that over the course of the three or four sessions that we will have together we will try to get as much work in as possible and see whether or not we can affect the result."

"We know it's going to be tough and yeah, to some degree, it might be damage control, but from our our side we're just looking to make a difference and that's why I've accepted the role," he said.

Cook Islands will also face off against the Solomon Islands and Tahiti in Group B, with Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Fiji and hosts Vanuatu in Group A.

Matt Calcott said his contract only runs for the next fortnight but he's open to more coaching opportunities in Oceania.