eleven MONTHS HAVE passed since Middleton’s Ahmed Badri tragically passed away in Sudan whilst doing the thing he loved the most – playing football.
As a tribute, his best friend and neighbour of 10 years, Josh Moon, decided the best way to remember the Leeds ace was to set up an 11-a-side football team in his name.
With help from his brother Kaine and cousin Jonny Daniels, Badri FC, was formed just two months later.
And nine months on the fledgling side are carrying Ahmed’s name to glory with all roads seemingly leading to immediate promotion in May.
Based at Sharp Lane in Middleton, Badri FC compete in the second tier of the Leeds Sunday League - the Championship - with the whole team friends of Bradford University graduate Ahmed who tragically passed away last February.
A former pupil at St Bart’s Primary, West Leeds High School and Notre Dam College, Ahmed, 25, was studying to become a doctor in Sudan and died whilst suffering a cardiac arrest whilst playing football.
Moon, 24, schooled with Ahmed at West Leeds High and is understandably still haunted by losing one of his closest friends.
Yet the much missed footballer and medical student’s close neighbour is also proud that out of something so tragic has come something so successful with Moon beaming that Badri FC is run just as his former ally would have desired.
“It still gives me shivers to talk about it,” said an emotional Moon about Ahmed’s passing.
“It still doesn’t feel real and it’s very hard to talk about.
“Ahmed was just the greatest and a close friend of our group, like a brother.
“Literally everyone who knew him adored him and was deeply hurt when they heard of him passing.
“We decided to set up the team in his name as we wanted to bring people together, just like Ahmed did. Honestly it has been a blast.”
While Josh, Kaine and manager Tim Scire are all from the same street that Ahmed lived on in Middleton, the rest of the club are from almost every other area of Leeds.
And despite having only a few months to gel as a team and prepare for the season ahead, they have equipped themselves well and only lost one of their opening eight league fixtures, which included a 6-1 win at New Farnley and an 8-0 drubbing of Western Juniors.
Seacroft AFC currently lead the way at the top of the division and are unbeaten in the league but Badri beat them 4-1 in the President’s Trophy in December.
The two have yet to meet in the Championship this season, in what could prove to be a defining fixture to determine who wins promotion to the Terry Pears Premier as champions.
And on top of an impressive start to league football, Badri FC have also already qualified for a cup semi-final.
Not bad for a team which didn’t even exist at this time last year.
Moon - who works in retail at a furniture store - is pleased with how things are going, but admits there have been ups and downs along the way.
He said: “We are doing pretty good to be fair although we suffered a shock loss to East Leeds Celtic recently.
“That was definitely a low point - especially after we’d beat them comfortably 3-0 a few weeks prior to that in the cup.
“Our stand-out performance was against Commercial FC in the first round of the cup.
“That was definitely a high point. Whether or not that was the highlight of the season so far is up for debate.
“Our right-back Kaine, who we’re are now calling Cafu, scored a goal against Corpus Christi a few weeks back.
“The ball rolled out to him on the right-hand side about 35 yards out and he hit it straight into the top corner.
“That’s personally my stand-out moment and I have it on video!
“We have a very talented group of players and the whole team is solid.
“We are all just mates who came together very easily and naturally.
“There have been a few drop outs but other than that it has been quite smooth.
“Evans Ashante is a mad man in our goal but that is just the way we want it and then up front we have a great mix and it is hardly ever the same one or two due to the competition and everyone scoring.
“We have Damon Turpin in central midfield who we call Matic and Jonny Daniels is basically like Juan Mata. Unplayable every game and a real workhorse.”
As well as playing on the wing, Moon helps organise match days and training, plus the unenviable task of handling any fines.
While the club is testament to his vision, he is quick to acknowledge he could never have done it without a few others.
“Two very key people are involved,” said Moon.
“Firstly there’s Tim Scire, who’s our manager, motivation and a very good friend. The other key person is David Moon from Supa Sofas who made it all possible.
“He has provided for every financial cost and it is his company that are our sponsor you see on our kit.
“We are all very grateful for what he has done.
“I best not forget a good friend of mine, Jamie McMahon, who is also part of the team.
“He plays up front and is always driving about on a Sunday morning like a madman trying to organise everything with us.”
Already only two games away from a trophy and with their strong start giving them a chance of promotion, it could be a debut season to remember for Badri FC.
But despite still being in their formative years, Moon isn’t looking for mere consolidation and has big plans for the future of the club.
And whatever happens over the next few years, the reason they are playing will always remain the same.
Moon concluded: “We plan to hopefully have two teams and play on Saturdays next season or the season after and set up our own youth team.
“They are some of the obvious goals for the near-future because it is going so well.
“We play for Badri and it is an amazing thing, just what he deserves.
“It has brought together so many people and I hope we are doing him proud when he watches us on a Sunday morning.”
League: Leeds Sunday League Championship.
Founders: Josh Moon, Kaine Moon, Jonny Daniels (in memory of Ahmed Badri).
Manager: Tim Scire.
Captain: Ishmail Mills.
Home ground: Sharp Lane, Middleton.
Sponsor: David Moon from Supa Sofas.
Current squad: Evans Ashante, Kaine Moon, Ishmael Mills, Dominic Rawlins, Tom Tobin, Patrick James, Scott Charlotte, Paul Driffield, Derek Ross, Jonathan Daniels, Jimmy Dao, Damon Turpin, Josh Moon, Jamie McMahon, Kyle Jeffery, Jack Humpherys, Jymel Black, Andy Brewitt.