Eat, sleep and teach football
31. Rahi Popat
Football mad Rahi Popat is the power behind the football club Hamilton Youth. His aim is to support local youngsters and unite his community through love of the national game.
Rahi grew up playing football and this soon became his escape and love in life, which continued into his adult years. He became secretary at his childhood team and used that experience to set up his own club, Hamilton Youth.
For the past two years Rahi has completely devoted his life to developing and expanding the club so that as many local youngsters as possible have the opportunity to enjoy the sport they love. At the first training session there were 14 youngsters attending but thanks to Rahi’s tireless efforts this grew quickly, and there are close to 100 attendees aged between five and fifteen.
Rahi even gives up his free time to visit local Primary schools to coach football and in 2012 Rahi had the idea to establish a unique partnership between Hamilton Youth and Rainbows Hospice for Children & Young People. This was highly successful with numerous donations to the hospice from parents and people associated the club. A year later Rahi was recognised by The FA Community Awards presented by McDonalds as a Young Volunteer of the Year.
Prime Minister David Cameron said:
“Rahi has used his love of football to make a fantastic contribution to his local community. He has not just set up and grown a club to unite young people. He has also pioneered a charity link between Hamilton Youth and Rainbow’s Hospice, leading to donations from parents and young players alike. I am delighted to be recognising Rahi as a Point of Light.”
“It is a real honour and privilege to receive this award and it is extremely humbling to be recognised by the Prime Minister. The reason behind Hamilton Youth was simply to give every child that walked through our doors a chance to fall in love with the beautiful game. It was always about giving children the right platform, skills and values which can be transferable in everyday life. Every child has a right to a memorable childhood which holds precious memories for them and I feel fortunate to be involved in making a difference in their lives.”