Five-a-side tournament raises £300 in memory of football coach who died on the touchline

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

IT WAS a chance for people young and old to remember a man who had played a part in their lives.

Football coach Francis Breen’s death of a suspected heart attack on the touchline during a youth football match left both family and the community shocked.

But they paid tribute to his work with a football contest in his honour, which raised more than £300 for charity.

Now the fundraiser looks set to become an annual event.

Both Mr Breen’s daughter Patricia, 24, and son Jonathan, 23, took part in the tournament at Crestwood College, in Eastleigh.

Their team 1A triumphed, taking home the Francis Breen Trophy.

The runners-up were 3B and organiser Thomas Palmer’s team 2A finished third, with medals presented by Mr Breen’s wife Jasmine, 57.

Mr Breen, 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 in November last year.

The 59-year-old semi-retired civil servant had helped set up the Mighty Athletes football club two years ago.

Working alongside his daughter Patricia, they aimed to get underprivileged children into football and inspire youngsters into sport.

But he had coached football teams for many year,s including a football team attached to the Lighthouse Church in St Mary’s, where he coached among others Thomas Palmer.

The 20-year-old, of Coate Road, Sholing, decided to organise the football contest when he heard what happened.

It raised £366 for Traidcraft, a charity chosen by the Breen family, which tries to eliminate poverty through trade.

Thomas said that despite the weather the turnout was good with around 70 players taking part in the ten-team, five-a-side contest.

He said: “People were saying it was a great way to remember him. If he was looking he’d be smiling, he’d be happy about it.”

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