The appointment of former Republic of Ireland boss Brian Kerr as the new national-team coach has created a stir in the Faroe Islands, with the 56-year-old insisting: "We must work hard. Everybody: staff, players, association and supporters."
Without a coach since Jógvan Martin Olsen resigned in October, it took the Faroe Islands Football Association five months to find a replacement, but the confirmation on 6 April that Kerr was to take over brought widespread approval from the press, local coaches and supporters. Having led the Irish national team from 2003 to 2005, he has perhaps the best pedigree of any Faroese coach to date.
The Faroes have had foreign bosses before – Danes Allan Simonsen (1993-2001) and Henrik Larsen (2001-05) – but none with the same background as Kerr, who has coached since his teens, most impressively in the youth sector. His Ireland side took bronze at the 1997 FIFA U-20 World Cup and the following year won both the UEFA European Under-16 Championship and UEFA European Under-18 Championship.
Kerr's role as Faroe Islands coach will also involve overseeing player development in all the youth sectors, and Under-21 boss Hedin Askham was particularly looking forward to working alongside the Dubliner. "I immediately thought that this name was a very exciting one because he has worked a lot in youth development and has also been coach at a higher level," Askham explained.
Kerr has pledged a level of commitment to local football unknown in previous foreign coaches. While predecessors only visited the islands occasionally, Kerr is moving to the Faroes to keep a close watch on the local scene and will also travel abroad to check out the nation's overseas-based stars. He is eager to get more of his players playing abroad, just as they did when he was in Ireland.
"It's crucial," he said of the need for international players to learn their trade in the strongest possible league. "In Ireland all the players go to England, and many go when they are really young. You could say that it's not beneficial to the Faroese tournament that Faroese players go abroad, but if it's beneficial to both the player and the national team, then it is also, ultimately, for Faroese football."
World Cup tests
The Kerr era will kick off with FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Serbia (10 June) and France (12 August) but the new coach did not rule out picking up points from the likes of Austria, Lithuania and Romania. "They are all very strong teams, but yes, we will want to [get positive results]," he said. "I know the players will be ambitious, but we must work hard. Everybody: staff, players, association and supporters."
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