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Ex-Reading striker Kitson set to manage Nauru in first international

Ex-Reading striker Kitson set to manage Nauru in first international

David Kitson celebrating for Reading
David Kitson is expected to travel to Nauru in June after being named national team manager.

Former Premier League striker Dave Kitson is set to manage a remote Pacific island team in their first international.

The ex-Reading forward has been recruited to develop a national team in Nauru in readiness for their debut.

Nauru, which is situated about 3,000km north-east of Australia, is the smallest republic in the world and home to just over 12,000 people.

“It’s really up my street this kind of project,” Kitson told BBC South Today.

“Going off-grid and combining it with football is a match made in heaven.”

Kitson made more than 150 appearances and scored 62 goals for Reading across both the Premier League and Championship, and also featured for Portsmouth, Stoke and Sheffield United.

The 44-year-old was approached by his friend Gareth Johnson, the director of football and founder of the Nauru Soccer Federationexternal-link.

The federation’s plans include developing the national team, taking part in regional tournaments, and establishing a grassroots structure for the island.

The island of Nauru
Nauru, north-east of Australia in the Pacific Ocean, is the world’s smallest republic

“I want to make a good story for an island that has never played football or had a team,” Kitson said.

“We’re talking about trying to sort a tournament – that’s our main goal but it comes down to funding.

“It’s not going to be cheap. It could have two to three days of travel just to play one game. We’re looking at private and government funding.”

Nauru is only 21 sq km (eight sq miles) and is known for its production of the chemical phosphate.

Once known as Pleasant Island by early European visitors, the landscape has been devastated by years of mining.

Mining for Phosphate on Nauru
The landscape of Nauru has been severely impacted by phosphate strip mining

Obesity and diabetes are also major issues for the population and this was something that Kitson wanted to impact in a positive way.

“This is something that means more to me,” he said.

“I want to help with the health and fitness of the people on the island, we want to implement a football programme that can get kids playing the sport.

“I’m a firm believer in leaving something in a better shape than how you found it. I hope we can do that.”

Kitson currently coaches football at a school in Berkshire and runs the Dave Kitson Football Academy.

One of his teams recently won a national tournament, an achievement he described as “one of the best things that ever happened to me in football”.

Kitson is planning to travel to Nauru in June as they get their football programme under way.

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