The national team coach of Anguilla, newly installed as the official worst team in the world, has something of a story. Born in Poland as Ryszard Orlowski, he fled his homeland in 1984 amidst the political repression of the communist era and escaped to Austria. Subsequently, he was granted refugee status in the United States and made a new life for himself – with a new, anglicised first name – in New York City and then Pennsylvania.
As a player, he was a striker in his native Poland but has become more renowned as a coach being part of a Polish-American duo helping Nepal to a famous win over India. ‘I am very happy and proud of this new chapter in my life,’ he said. ‘The country is surrounded by beautiful beaches, amazing weather, and best of all, friendly people. The Anguillan team is decent, but it needs improvement. This is why I was brought in as head coach. My job and responsibility is to bring this country’s football to the next level. I am always one to take a challenge head on and will not back down from achieving my goals. I create a very good atmosphere and relationship between the players and myself. In football this is very important.’
‘I have a great challenge here in Anguilla but I have faith in the players. I know they have potential and I am here to help them achieve something great.’ He has already had some measure of success with Anguilla, leading them to a pair of wins over the British Virgin Islands and St Martin; Anguilla’s first wins for several years.
Sadly for Anguilla, the clash with St Martin was against a non-FIFA team and so had no bearing on their ranking. Likewise the two games against the British Virgin Islands weren’t officially recognised fixtures. A boost for morale they may have been but they counted for nought in terms of their ranking.
‘It means nothing to me,’ he said of the bottom ranking. ‘We’ve had some bad luck in the past, there’s no denying. But now we play in the present. So whoever says that Anguilla don’t have a chance, I say to them: “This is football and anything can happen.”’
‘I want to make this a winning team by challenging the players to believe in themselves,’ he added. It will be a tough challenge, but in Orlowski they have a man with the pedigree and desire to help them push on and try to rise up the rankings once more.