Birmingham & Black Country

Joel Richards: Fund named after referee killed in Tunisia attack

Joel Richards Image copyright Suzy Evans
Image caption The dedication Joel Richards showed to refereeing has been recognised with a string of posthumous awards and a memorial fund

A fund in memory of a 19-year-old referee who was killed with his grandfather and uncle in a terror attack in Tunisia has been launched.

Joel Richards, from Wednesbury, died alongside uncle Adrian Evans, grandfather Patrick Evans and 35 others in terror attacks near Sousse in 2015.

The Birmingham County FA announced the Joel Richards Legacy Fund - a bursary for young coaches, referees and volunteers - at an event in his honour.

Joel's family also attended the event.

Image caption Suzanne Richards said she is proud to see the work of her son Joel Richards remembered by his former footballing colleagues

Joel's mother Suzanne Richards said: "Joel was all about grassroots sport and getting young people into sport, whether it was coaching, refereeing or just playing football.

"It's just nice to feel that Joel's still helping the community, even though he's not here to actually do it himself."

Image caption Young referees were put through their paces at the event in memory of Joel Richards

Joel, who studied at the University of Worcester and was a passionate Walsall fan, would have been 21 on 3 August, and had planned to get into coaching in the US after finishing his degree.

The Joel Richards Legacy Fund will be available to anyone in the Birmingham area, between the ages of 12 and 25, who need financial support to help them get involved with football.

Image caption Birmingham County FA's Kirsty Dixon said the fund in memory of her friend would allow him to be "a massive inspiration" for future referees and coaches

Joel's friend Kirsty Dixon, chairman of Birmingham Country FA's youth council, said the fund will continue his legacy as "an amazing role model" for young people involved with football.

"Joel dedicated his time to support as many people as possible, and always knew how to put a smile on your face," she said.

"We hope to continue the support he personally provided through the fund, which will benefit many - especially those who need some support to kick-start or help them on their own football journey."

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