|The Woman Behind The Man.
Adapted from an interview with Benjamin James Coonan
So now and then you can read on WSAMOA something about the Samoa Soccer World. But who is the man behind Samoa Soccer? And what is his drive to coach the Samoa Soccer team? Here on WSAMOA you can read all about the National Coach and Technical Director of Samoa Soccer: David Brand!
“I’ll tell you a thing about David,” says Beverley Brand, wife of Samoa’s English born football maestro David Brand.
“We got married on a Friday so he could play football on the Saturday!
“To make matters worse, our first child Danielle was born because of a goal scored in an FA Cup final! Manchester United beat Everton 1-0 in extra time.
“The nursing sister helping to deliver our daughter was, like David, a Manchester United fan and she and David proceeded to discuss the match while I was ‘Between my knees! Hello, anybody remember me?’”
Upon speaking with the partner of the man at the forefront of Samoa’s rise through the football ranks, one is assured that the rare passion and zest for football which David possesses has been somewhat smeared all over his significant other.
After 23 years with one of the most avid football purists one would ever hope to meet, it comes as no surprise that a young girl from Watford has unwittingly become a football fan herself.
But as I was to find out, Bev Brand is far more that just another well wisher barracking from the sidelines, but rather, a vital cog in the machine that drives Samoa’s national coach.
Bev is the youngest of a family of five from Watford in England.
Having been born into a football mad society, the temptation to embrace the world game was apparent to young Bev from an early age.
Instead, she busied herself with ballet while her older brothers occupied themselves on the football pitch.
But a Watford fan no less? “Absolutely!” she exclaims.
“Very much so. I’m on the net most days having a look at their fan club, but don’t tell David that!”
Her family emigrated to Australia when Beverley was just five. Specifically, to a suburb in Perth, Western Australia, known as Riverton.
It was here that Bev was to meet her future husband and few will be surprised to know that their eyes first met on the football pitch.
“It was at a soccer carnival one weekend,” she recalls.
“He had come over from England for a tournament and he saw me walking across the pitch and found out I was the sister of one of his teammates.”
“Initially for the first few years it was he being the teacher and I was the student so it was sort of a no go zone.
“He went away for a couple of years came back, and within three weeks of him coming back we were engaged.”
History will show that two decades further on, the Brand’s are still very happily married and have welcomed two daughters, Danielle 20 and Jessica 15, to their family unit.
Now residing in the perennial Australian paradise of the Gold Coast, Queensland, where Bev looks after the family home whilst caring for her elderly father, the Brand’s have shifted their focus East of Australian waters to the tiny island of Samoa.
When David took up the position as technical director for the Samoan Football Federation (SFF) in November 2002, both Bev and her husband knew of the massive cultural and social adjustments needed to make David’s tenure abroad a successful one.
Thirty months later, the hard work seems to have paid off.
“It’s just become absolutely everything,” says Bev, speaking of her partners’ commitment to the Samoan football cause.
“It’s something we discussed as a couple; obviously he’d have to spend a lot of time away from our family.
“But we discussed it long and hard and felt it’s short term pain for long term gain.”
It is here, that I began to understand the enormous role Bev plays in keeping her husband grounded and focused on the task at hand.
Not once throughout my dialogue with her did I get the impression that she felt hard done by, given her circumstance that sees her partner away from home for ten months of every year.
“I’m sorta relaxed not having him around,” she says a sarcastically.
“I don’t have to do too much secretarial work!”
In David’s term with the SFF, Bev has developed somewhat of a patriotic Samoan streak herself. Nothing compared to her husband though.
“I think sometimes he has more patriotism in him that what the players do!” she chuckles with a wry grin.
“If it was a toss up between seeing Australia achieve or seeing Samoa achieve, in some ways I’d like to see Samoa achieve more.
“I would have loved to have seen Samoa beat Australia that night.” Finishes Bev, referring to the gallant Samoan performance shown against the Olyroos in January of last year in the Olympic Qualifiers in Sydney. That was followed by the momentous first victory over the Solomon Islands and a draw with PNG to complete a marvelous tournament for the young Samoans.
Of course, one of the perks of being the partner of the coach of one of world’s most spectacular islands is that you are allowed to travel there.
There was no need for clarification when I asked Bev what she thought of Samoa.
“I loved it!” she exclaimed.
“The people are very hospitable and it’s something you really have to see to really take it all in. The country is absolutely gorgeous. I had a ball, but I wasn’t there for long enough!”
Coming into what is certain to be one of the more difficult periods in David’s tenure with the SFF, Bev has no doubts that her husband has what it takes to ensure a solid Samoan performance at the World Cup Qualifiers and the South Pacific Games in 2007.
“He’s a very honorable, very hard-working and very committed person, extremely committed, whether it be marriage, family or football,” Bev comments about her partner.
“Over the past thirty months he’s had to take into consideration a lot of cultural and religious differences as well as other frustrations and not everyone can do that.
“At times, he’d rather make sacrifices both personally and in the family than back away from a challenge. But he’s done what he has done with my blessing.”
With the blessing of the woman he loves and the determination that is exemplary of David Brand, there is no question that the future of Samoan football is in the right hands.
They may not be world-beaters just yet, but with David and Bev at the helm, the beauty and culture of the land in which the Samoans live may correspond with their footballing prowess sooner rather than later.
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