Portsmouth Football Club and the world’s rarest iguanas have formed an unlikely alliance.
Portsmouth and the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana, one of the most imperilled creatures on the planet, have are both known as ‘The Blues’.
The partnership came after Shane Aquârt, the man behind Dready art, and a remarkable four-year-old blue iguana that, along with a handful of her species, survived extinction and captured the heart of Portmouth’s director of operations on a recent visit to Grand Cayman.
So impressed was Lucius Peart with the story of the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme, which has brought the species back from near extinction in just a few years, that he offered to sponsor the five foot female, to be known as ‘Pompey’, Portsmouth’s knickname.
The Premiership club has plenty to cheer about at present; even though they are in the relegation zone, they beat once-mighty Liverpool 2-0 at home on Saturday.
The naming of Iguana Pompey and the new relationship with the Cayman Islands was officially launched at a Caribbean-themed Children’s Christmas Party held for local youngsters by Portsmouth Football Club two weeks ago at Fratton Park.
First team players including Linvoy Primus, who announced his retirement at the event, and Aaron Mokoena, who co-hosted the party and joined in the games with 60 children from Portsmouth’s Study Centre, all wore Dready-Portsmouth T-shirts. Media including Sky Sport, Portsmouth’s Quay Radio and Portsmouth News all covered the event.
Portsmouth has also commissioned Arquart, one of Cayman’s most popular local artists,to design a new range of merchandising which will be available to fans in the UK.
Arquart’s distinctive faux primitive art is known as ‘Dready World’ and he is already one of the Caribbean’s best selling artists, gracing the walls of modern art collectors across the world.
His cross-cultural, tongue-in-cheek work is seen as an accurate portrayal of Portsmouth Football Club’s colourful fan club, using typical Caribbean wit.
Aquârt represented the Cayman Islands at the Children’s Christmas Party, along with the Department of Tourism, who co-funded the event.
Don McDougall, DOT’s Regional Manager, Europe, said: ‘As always, DOT is delighted to promote Cayman’s local talent internationally and we are in the early stages of discussion around some very exciting opportunities that Dreadyworld’s association with Portsmouth Football Club can offer the Cayman Islands in the UK market.’
Pompey the Blue Iguana will now form the basis of an education programme for school children living in Portsmouth. The initiative is part of a cross cultural swap between the Cayman Islands and PFC which is located on the UK’s only island city, built on Portsea Island. Portsmouth is the seventh most densely populated island in the world.
As DOT embarks on a new relationship with the UK club, the Department of Tourism is asking all Pompey fans based in the Cayman Islands to make themselves known.
Arquart said: ‘I’ve done two designs for Portsmouth and a Christmas card so far. This is the start of a relationship and we’ll see what comes of it as far as Portsmouth and the rest of Europe and the world goes.’
McDougall said: ‘If you are a Pompey fan, please email [email protected]