I have a real problem with names.  The issue is not with remembering them – that’s actually a strength of mine, and to my mind extremely important when coaching.  The difficulty I have here is that I just can’t understand the majority of them!  When you ask a child their name, and he or she says David or John or Sarah, you can get it immediately, no matter what accent it’s said in.  Here though, very few kids have names like that!

In one class we have a Shaquane, a Raquane and a Jaquane!  In the school team there is also a Zaquane.  On rare but joyful occasions you find a Peter Murray or an Adam Thompson – names you can actually say!

We coach several children who have been named after footballers.  There is a Raul, a Zidane, a Juninho, a Baggio, a couple of Ronaldos and several Romarios!

There are also mixtures of the names of both parents, such as Rashawn, a combination of Rachel and Shawn.  The older generation tend to have more ‘normal’ names – this can be seen on a contact list we were given by one of the schools.  Here are a selection of the mothers’ names: Melissa, Natalie, Mary, Karen, Andrea, Denise, Sharon, Nicole, Maria, Judy…and here are some of the children: Kailani, Deyonté, Tyreke, Tyriq, Shaquon, Kadeja, Shalissa, De-Aundre, Jalani, Saedio.

There are a number of surnames which are relatively rare in England but seem to crop up regularly here , such as Piggott, Brathwaite, Cumberbatch, Alleyne, Hoyte and Callender.  At different schools, we coach five pupils who share my surname except that all of them add an ‘e’ on the end – Browne.

As with everywhere, the youngsters often have nicknames.  For the lazy and/or uninspired, the name ‘Big Man’ can be used universally, whereas anyone slightly over average weight is ‘Fat Man’.  Anyone with dreads is ‘Rasta Man’.  Then there are the slightly more original kids who come up with innovative nicknames.  One child introduced himself to me as ‘Square Head’ and I could see why!  Another skinny guy is known as ‘Toothpick’ while his slightly goofy classmate is known as ‘Toothbrush’!!


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