CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Boss Marquis masterminds 8-1 win

17-year-old Arsenal fan fulfils his lifelong ambition by taking charge of junior football team

19 September, 2019 — By Steve Barnett

Marquis Coker with mum Amanda and Just Play FC founder Taff Rahman, who arranged for the teenager to take charge of the club’s Under-13s side

MOVE over Unai Emery and co, there’s a new football coach in town and he’s got his talented team gobbling up the goals.

Arsenal fan Marquis Coker fulfilled “a lifelong dream” on Saturday when he took charge of Just Play FC’s first game of the season in the Camden and Regent’s Park Football Youth League.

The 17-year-old led an inspirational teamtalk before kick-off, telling his Under-13s side: “We must be strong, pass the ball and attack!”

Marquis also made a series of telling formation changes that Gunners boss Emery would have been proud of.

And they worked wonders as Highgate-based Just Play stormed to an 8-1 victory over rivals Hampstead.

“I love football and have always wanted to coach a team,” said Marquis, who lives in West Hampstead with his mum Amanda and twin Tyreese.

“I didn’t think I would win my first game, but I did. I changed the formation to play like Arsenal and Barcelona and it worked. I enjoyed meeting all the players, it was really good.”

Marquis Coker with the Just Play Under-13s side

The opportunity to coach Just Play came about through a chance meeting at the O2 Centre in Finchley Road when club founder Taff Rahman recognised Marquis after seeing him talk about his love for Arsenal in a video for Dreams Come True, a charity committed to bringing joy to seriously ill young people.

Taff said: “Considering it was the first time that Marquis had ever coached a team, you would have expected him to be nervous and shy, but far from it.

“He fully took charge and did a great job. The players, parents and coaches look forward to having Marquis on board.”

Amanda said that she wasn’t surprised by the impact Marquis had on the Just Play family.

“He has such a big personality and wherever we go people are drawn to him,” she said.

“He’s got awkward banter, you either get him or you don’t.

“One example is when I threw him a surprise boat party for his 16th birthday, and invited all his friends and family and teachers, and made a big effort. I even hired him a Hummer limousine, I really wanted to make it special.

“The next day he fell unwell and was raced to hospital, where we were told that he went into congestive heart failure and didn’t have long. When he finally came around he said, ‘Mum, you have got to stop throwing me fancy surprises, you gave me a heart attack’.

“Marquis is always battling something. He has vanishing bones, scoliosis [curvature of the spine], keloids, which is when scar tissue grows excessively, heart surgeries, and now we’re back at the Royal Free Hospital because they are investigating a shadow on the brain.

“But he’s always smiling and always positive. He doesn’t use his disability as an excuse. We’re living every day as if it’s his last, and we want to make sure every second counts.”

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