A FUNDRAISER for a popular youth football coach who died has beaten its target.

Paul Park, a coach with Leigh and Bransford Badgers, died suddenly last month, with members of the community setting a target of £1,800 to buy two new benches to be dedicated to him.

The benches are planned to be set up at Ralphs Field in Leigh Sinton, with plans to use the excess donations for different purposes.

In an update via the JustGiving Page, Mandy Cooper, who set up the page, wrote: "Thank you so much for everyone's support.

"We have some plans for the additional funds so please keep going and watch this space."

Mr Park, who died on February 22, was a well-known youth football coach in the area, coaching age-group sides for many years for Leigh and Bransford Badgers.

Before moving into coaching, he had been on the books at Southampton in his youth, followed by a playing career which saw him play more than 150 games for Malvern-based Express Falcons FC and Malvern Town Reserves.

The club published a tribute to the much-loved club man, saying he blessed the club with his time there.

The tribute said: "It is with great sadness that Leigh and Bransford Badgers Football Club is informing all members of the sudden passing of one of our coaches, a friend and a Badger, Paul Park, on February 22.

"Paul’s passing will be felt greatly throughout our club as he was so kindly involved in coaching of both our under-10 Barcelona and under-8 Porto squads.

"A family man and a talented footballer in his own right, he was on the books of Southampton FC as a youngster, then a prolific goalscorer whilst playing over 150 times for Malvern based Express Falcons FC and representing Malvern Town Reserves when he first moved to the area.

"His passion for the game has been passed to his sons and the amount Paul will be missed is extremely hard to put into words.

"The kindness and the respect he attracted from players, coaches, parents and opposition is a testament to the man himself.

"It is rare this type of person comes along.

"Everyone feels blessed Paul chose to spend his time with the Badgers. Thank you Paul."

To help out with the fundraising, go to www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/mandy-cooper-4