In 2004 when Dean Mason (#23 MF) and Bradley “Woodzy” Woods-Garness first approached James Comley about playing for Montserrat on its national football team, he thought it was an impossibility.
Comley had been under the impression that his grandfather Thomas Greenaway was St. Lucian as that was where his grandmother was from. Unbeknownst to James, his grandad was Montserratian and had moved to St. Lucia before heading to the United Kingdom, long before the Soufriere Hills Volcano caused a mass evacuation of residents in the late 90s. This revelation changed the game, not only for James but for the Emerald Boys.
The 30-year-old is in Miami preparing to do battle with the rest of the squad in tonight’s CONCACAF Gold Cup match, scheduled to kick off at 9:30PM EST. It’s a pivotal game for this team which missed out on a chance to qualify for the World Cup despite not losing any games in the recent competitions.
Discover Montserrat caught up with James to talk about football and his other passion, his summer camp for children.
When he first joined the Emerald Boys, Comley played centreback but now his main position is centre midfield. He recently ended an almost six-year term with Maidenhead in the UK but admits he does not know where he will play next. However, he is confident he will be part of a team.
While James is focused on tonight’s match against Trinidad & Tobago, which will be a first, he is looking forward to returning home to lead his annual summer camp for children.
“Since I was 21, I have helped out with other people’s camps and at schools. I’ve always worked in sports and had my own business. A few years ago, I decided I had enough traction to do my own camp. We weren’t able to do a camp last year but it’s been good to see the growth in numbers and the feedback from the children,” Comley told Discover Montserrat.
“I have enjoyed building it and when I’m away, I have to rely on other coaches to run the programme. So many young kids need a good opportunity to enjoy life, play more sports, try different things and to find out what they like. That’s what I did when I was young.”
The footballer, who admits to also being competitive off the field, said he loves working with kids because no day is ever the same. “The reactions and outcomes are different. Even when it is frustrating and you are struggling to get the best out of someone, on that fourth day when they start to show improvement, that is the payback and the reward is so satisfying.
“What I try to bring to the camps is good fun and energy. A place to meet new people, learn new games, arts and crafts for younger kids, dodge ball, football, hockey, and team games,” he shared.
The camp is an opportunity to give to the children the things he enjoyed as a child and also give them access to the things he wished he had learned or done when he was younger. “You never know what can come from it.”
Until he returns, the focus is on football and Comley is proud to be playing for Montserrat’s national team who avid fans have renamed the Green Army.
“We’ve always got a good group. Sometimes in football things just don’t happen and we came so close. A couple of points off the top spot and that happens, but you can’t let disappointment stop you. We don’t want to feel like that so we go out there and try to change the angle for the next phase.”
“Everyone’s embracing the team and we love the energy. We’re trying to do it for the nation, hoping we can get it over the line. Whatever happens we are all in it together.”
Video Source: Craig Brewin