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Faith and football: ex-Sunderland player to run church summer coaching sessions

Former Sunderland footballer Maurice Hepworth is to stage a series of coaching sessions for young people in the north-east during August ...

Former Sunderland footballer Maurice Hepworth is to stage a series of coaching sessions for young people in Washington during August.

Six weekend sessions taken by Maurice, who played first team football for Sunderland at the age of 17 and was a member of their FA Cup Final squad of 1973, will take place at St George’s Church, Fatfield on August 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 and 18 at 3pm. They are for young people aged 11 and above.

The sessions taken by Maurice, a Christian who is keen to put something back into his community, are called Faith in Football and have been developed with St George’s.

Maurice, who has worked for Sunderland, Middlesbrough and the Premier League on youth academies, said: “A lot of football skills can be related to everyday life skills for kids and parents. I wanted to bring that to the community, things such as humility, teamwork, leadership and reputation management, the things we want to get right and all the things which Jesus teaches us. I want to bring it alive.”

Maurice himself played for Sunderland’s squad in their cup-winning year of 1973 but just a week before the FA Cup final, he was kicked in the stomach during a game. For two weeks he was left fighting for his life with near-fatal internal injuries and, although he recovered, it drew a premature curtain on his time with Sunderland and opened the door for a career in South Africa.

After playing for Arcadia Shepherds in South Africa and being named South African Player of the Year in 1977, injury ended his career for good.

Having then focused on building a successful career within the world of business and enterprise, he held various senior management roles within Pepsi Co International, KFC, Pizza Hut, Scottish & Newcastle Plc and Heineken UK.

In February 2010, he decided to develop m.h Coaching & Leadership and is now Managing Director of the company, which is driven by the expertise gained during his successful career in both the sport and business sectors.

He said his road to Christian faith began as he recovered from his broken leg in South Africa.

He said: “Although it was not my conversion moment, the serious injury was a signpost to meeting Jesus. My faith is the number one thing in my life now.”

Maurice said he relates to Tottenham player Fabrice Muamba, whose heart stopped on the field during the game and who subsequently retired on health grounds.

Maurice said: “I often ask what the two of us have in common and it’s that we both nearly died on the pitch and we both have a strong faith.”

* Places on the course can be booked on 0191 415 4200.

Picture: Keith Blundy / Aegies Associates‬

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