Carlisle City’s James Nichols: English fans ask me about Cascadia


James Nichols is the head coach of Carlisle City and the national side representing Cascadia. In his full time day job, he is a teacher dealing with some of Cumbria’s most challenging children.

A native of the county, he guided the Pacific Northwest side which represent British Columbia, Washington State and Oregon to sixth place in their inaugural appearance despite only meeting his squad for the first time 24 hours before their first match.

Since then the side has progressed to having two separate but equal squads; one to play games in Europe and another to play home games in Cascadia, the first of which has now been organised for July 27th in Kent, WA.

Prost spoke to Nichols as he gears up for the side’s first ever friendly, against the Chagos Islands at Whyteleafe FC on Saturday.

Prost: What have you been up to since the ConIFA World Cup?

James Nichols: It’s been quite busy. I was approached by Mid Annandale in Scotland and was head coach there until February. At that point, a local semi professional club called Carlisle City made an approach for me and I have been working there since.

Prost: Was managing in Scotland much different from England?

James Nichols: Managing in Scotland was interesting. My career has solely based in England. I found the game to be less physical and there was a different structure to the way that Scottish football works, with the junior sides having some very good players but not being part of the Scottish pyramid.

Prost: What memories do you have of the ConIFA World Cup?

James Nichols: My abiding memories were the first time we met and suddenly realising the success in getting a team together but also the huge challenge we were due to face. The first game against Ellan Vallin where Cascadia was represented on the world stage for the first time and the first win against Barawa were special moments.

Cascadia make history with first ever win

Prost: Are many of the World Cup team back for this friendly?

James Nichols: There are five of the original World Cup squad involved against the Chagos Islands, including Charlie Gregory, Patrick Wilson, Max Oldham, Tayshan Hayden-Smith and Brian Simpson, as well as Lorne Jenkins who was called up for the World Football Cup but was unable to play due to injury.

Sporting Bengal’s Charlie Gregory is among the World Cup stars coming back
Photo: Ali Gilmore / Prost Soccer

Prost: Has the squad stayed in touch with each other since the tournament ended?

James Nichols: Friendships were definitely made. We were a group of 30 individuals on the Wednesday and two weeks later we were a team. People keep in touch on social media due to the distances between players and the group WhatsApp is still active. The players have enjoyed seeing each others successes from the tournament.

Prost: As you go about your work in British football, do people ask you about Cascadia?

James Nichols: I get asked about Cascadia all the time. It’s a surreal story at home, having had no connection to the region to begin with. People will ask me about the quality of players, will watch videos of games and they take a general interest in where the project is going.

Prost: What do you know about Saturday’s opponent, the Chagos Islands?

James Nichols: I know a little about the Chagos Islands. I’ve had them watched recently against Surrey and also saw one of their games at the world football Cup in London last year. They are a good side who keep the ball well and it will be a tough outing for us with so many new players.

Prost: Last week, the Cascadia Football Association announced its first home fixture. How big a development is that for the side and the association?

James Nichols: We’ve been working on a home fixture for a year but the lack of ConIFA sides in North America made it difficult. It’s massive for the Federation as it allows the Cascadian public to view their team first hand. We are hopeful it will be a fantastic occasion and a reason to celebrate.

Interview with new captain Patrick Wilson tomorrow.

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