British Empire Medal for Santos Football Club founder Eugene McGeehan

The coach of Santos FC in Carryduff, Eugene McGeehan has been awarded a British Empire Medal in the New Year’s Honours for voluntary service to association football in Northern Ireland.
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Santos Football Club was established by Eugene in 1969 with the aim ‘to promote and foster the sport of soccer at all levels, providing opportunities for recreation and competition’.

Eugene wanted to encourage all and actively sought out those disadvantaged through ability, race, creed, physical or mental issues, and offered them friendship, support, encouragement and expertise in soccer coaching.

Eugene has, almost single-handedly, created a club which provides regular training and coaching to around 80 members.

Santos FC founder Eugene McGeehan has been awarded a British Empire Medal in the New Year's Honours. Pic credit: Santos FCSantos FC founder Eugene McGeehan has been awarded a British Empire Medal in the New Year's Honours. Pic credit: Santos FC
Santos FC founder Eugene McGeehan has been awarded a British Empire Medal in the New Year's Honours. Pic credit: Santos FC

Whilst he coached underage teams Eugene also worked in the afternoon with Senior Teams including GEC (Larne), Downpatrick Rec, Crumlin United, Sparta, Crewe United and Dungiven Celtic.

He also personally played in the Northern Amateur League in the 1960s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s and, lastly, in 2016; that’s six decades and an Amateur League Record! Clubs Eugene played for included Trench Celtic, Sparta, Crewe United, Santos FC as well as teams from his hometown in Derry.

Eugene also found the time to coach Belfast Primary School’s Soccer Team to great success in San Diego, USA in 1999.

Now aged 78, and despite suffering two heart attacks, Eugene still actively coaches and mentors Santos FC’s young players and recently established an under 6 year old girls football team within the club. He also still runs a number of Saturday and Sunday teams.

Eugene believes passionately that football provides vital life skills for young people, helping to build confidence and maturity.

Joseph McGeehan, who nominated Eugene for the honour, said: “Eugene is an example to others and has lead where others have followed.

"I am exceptionally proud of him and the work, the difference that he has made, and continues to make to this very day, to our communities.”

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Congratulating Eugene on the recognition, Irish FA President Conrad Kirkwood said: "I have had the pleasure of knowing Eugene through football for many years.

“He is one of those people with a caring nature and a selfless desire to make the best of the beautiful game, using it to develop people.

"This award is fitting recognition of his contribution over many, many years."

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