A football coach who paid for rehab kit for his players, drove them around and even made their meals has been recognised with a national award – nine months after his death.
Farouk Menia of Dulwich Hamlet FC has been crowned the 2020 Grassroots Coach of the Year for Adult Teams.
Farouk became the coach of women’s side of AFC hoenix after arriving in England. AFC Phoenix would eventually merge with Dulwich Hamlet during his seven-year tenure.
His impact and effect on the team culture was huge and immediate, his tribute said.
He brought the players together not only as a team, but as an extended family. The team thrived against big clubs like QPR Ladies and Fulham Women – despite a much smaller budget – succeeding thanks to Farouk’s dedication and coaching abilities.
Despite his humble lifestyle, he would appear at training with ankle braces and physio bands for injured players, paid for out of his own pocket. He would drive the team around and even make the end of match sandwiches. Farouk, who coached the team for eight years, was diagnosed with cancer at the end of AFC Phoenix’s title winning season in 2017.
He continued to coach and encourage his players, often in the rain and freezing cold. But he died in November last year, surrounded by close family and friends, aged just 44.
Farouk’s team will be presented with his award at an event to be held at a later date.
Sir Geoff Hurst, McDonald’s Fun Football ambassador and 1966 World Cup winner, said: “ “Farouk’s family and his team should be extremely proud of his work and contribution to Dulwich Hamlet FC.
“His legacy leaves his club and women’s grassroots football in a better place.
“In what has been a hugely challenging year for the country, it’s particularly important to recognise the volunteers who work tirelessly to have a positive impact on their local communities.”
A GoFundMe page raising money to help his family has collected more than £10,000. Organiser Zoë Elmore said soon after his death: “Farouk was a bright spot in all of our lives, on and off the football pitch.
“He was one of the friendliest people I’ve ever come across – from the first time you met him you went from strangers to best friends in a matter of seconds.
“He always said to us ‘be spicy’ – something that is now central to our club’s identity. As true to his nature, he shielded from us the extent of his illness as much as possible so as not to worry or upset us.
“A testament to the kind of man he was. He was the heartbeat of the club.
“The impact Farouk had on our lives will never be forgotten. And to honour him and his memory, we are asking for support to provide for his family, including his two young children, during this incredibly difficult time.”
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Pictured: Club players pay tribute to Farouk Menia in front of his mural at the ground
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