By Rachael Burford, Local Democracy Reporter
Tributes have been paid to a young children’s football coach who collapsed and died suddenly while playing a match with friends.
Andrae Stevens Jr, 20, was playing his weekly five-a-side game at Goals Wimbledon on Thursday, September 17 when he suddenly fell to the ground.
He had started a new job teaching football at a primary school in Brixton that day, and had no previous health conditions.
Paramedics and Goals staff battled to save his life, his family said. They have still not learned what caused his fatal collapse.
His mother, Kerrie-Ann Braham, 45, who supports troubled children at Hotham Primary School, in Charlwood Road, Putney, said: “He was my best friend and only son. He was so loving, caring and family orientated. His personality just captivated everyone. His dream was to finish university and go into sport managing.
“He wanted to coach a girls’ team because he always said the girls weren’t noticed in football and were underrated.
“He played for his university team and was so fit and healthy. Because of lockdown he hadn’t been able to play as much, so he was really excited about getting back into training. It’s just such a shock for us all.”
Mr Stevens, from Putney, had taken a job coaching children before returning to his sports degree at Southampton Solent, where he was a striker for the university’s first team.
An online GoFundMe page has been set up to help support his mother and two sisters.
His best friend, Kasey Irving, was with him when he collapsed.
He said: “We were right next to each other when it happened. He lost the ball and then just collapsed – I thought he was lying down because he was tired.
“When I realised something was wrong I went over and started going ‘AJ are you okay?’ but he didn’t respond.
“Then someone from Goals put him in the recovery position and got a defibrillator while I called an ambulance, but it was too late.
“It’s such a huge loss. He had so much energy it was like he was two or three people in one person.
“He was always talking, always dancing, always laughing. He loved Arsenal and hated Chelsea .
“He had just started a job coaching football that day, he absolutely loved the game and wanted to devote his life to it. Losing someone like that is such a tragedy.”
A London Ambulance Service spokesman said: “We were called at 8.02pm on September 17 to reports of a person in cardiac arrest in Beverley Way, New Malden.
“We sent two ambulance crews, an incident response officer, an advanced paramedic and three medics in cars to the scene, with the first of our medics arriving in under five minutes.”
To see the online fundraising page click here.
Pictured top: Andrae Stevens Jnr
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