Charity football tournament held to honour coach

Francis Breen with daughter Patricia, son Jonathan and wife Jasmine

Francis Breen with daughter Patricia, son Jonathan and wife Jasmine

First published in News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

HE WAS the community football coach who made a difference to dozens of young people.

Now a charity football tournament is to be held in honour of Francis Breen, who collapsed and died while on the touchline coaching his team.

And both Mr Breen’s daughter Patricia, 24, and son Jonathan, 23, are set to take part.

The tournament, at Crestwood College, in Eastleigh, this Saturday, came about thanks to Thomas Palmer who wanted to do something for his former coach.

The 20-year-old, of Coate Road, Sholing, had played until recently for the football team attached to the Lighthouse church in St Mary’s since he was 16 and said Mr Breen had got him back into adult football.

He got in touch with former teammates to see if anyone was interested.

Although originally planned as a single 11-a-side match, interest was so great it has now become a tournament, which will run from midday to 4.30pm. Winners will receive the Francis Breen Trophy.

Thomas said: “He loved his football so it’s an appropriate way to remember him.”

Crestwood College is allowing organisers to use its Astroturf for free. Organisers are raising funds for Traidcraft, a charity chosen by the Breen family which aims to eliminate poverty through trade.

Mr Breen, 59, of Charles Knott Gardens in Banister Park, Southampton, was coaching the Mighty Athletes Under-9s in Bishop’s Waltham, when he suffered a suspected heart attack.

The semi-retired civil servant had helped his daughter Patricia set up the Mighty Athletes football club two years ago to get underprivileged children into football and inspire youngsters.

Francis’ wife Jasmine, 57, said: “I really appreciate these young boys who want to do this in his memory.

“I’m so proud of what he’s done for the children.

“We have to keep his memory alive.”

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