A Tribute to a Phoenix Legend
Today East End Phoenix are deeply saddened to share the news of the passing of our club founder, player and dear friend, Leviathen Hendricks.
Leviathen set up East End Phoenix (then known simply as Phoenix FC) in the spring of 2008, with a vision to provide inclusive football opportunities to the LGBTQ community in east London. Things started small, with Lev setting up training sessions held at Haggerston park for those who answered the advertisements on various social media and pinboard sites. Lev worked tirelessly week-in, week-out to build the club to the point it was ready to compete competitively, with the club’s first competitive game held against the met police LGBT team in May 2008. The following year Phoenix entered the London Unity League for the first time, and the rest they say is history.
Throughout the Club’s early years Lev was a constant presence; from strapping up his boots on match days, raising the club’s profile in the media, single-handedly booking venues and referees, or putting his design talents to work with our early kit designs. Lev did it all. As the club grew through 2011 and 2012, Lev helped form the first club committee and saw the team grow from strength to strength, both on and off the pitch. With the new committee in place, Lev took on the role of Club President, A title he has held until the present day.
Through the later years of the 2010s, Lev’s health became more of a challenge for him, limiting opportunities for him to play football as much as he would have liked. However, he was still a regular attendee at Phoenix training, games and at the Old Ship for drinks; always putting his all into both activities! Leviathen was extraordinarily resilient and stoic in the face of his illness, so much so that many club members had no idea he was unwell at all. He lived life to the full and didn’t let anything hold him back from what he wanted to achieve. An inspiration to us all.
Aside from his influence at EEP, Lev was a hugely respected figure in the LGBTQ sports arena, both nationally and internationally. Since arriving in the UK, Lev supported many sports organisations through committee roles and advocacy, such as the Gay Games, the European Gay & Lesbian Sport Federation (EGLSF), the Gay Football Supporters Network (GFSN) and Out for Sport, to name only a few. He was a tireless campaigner and advocate for LGBTQ football teams and supporters networks across the UK, using his experience to support and encourage many of them to get set up and organised. We know that many of these organisations will be feeling Lev’s loss acutely this morning and have been touched by the many kind words being shared by them over social media.
Lev’s impact at East End Phoenix is impossible to measure or quantify. He created a wonderful football club that lives and breathes the inclusivity and kindness that Lev himself showed in everyday life. He also made lifelong friends at the club, all of whom will miss him dearly today and who will resolve to continue to develop the club in his vision. In time we will put some thought as a club into how best to honour Lev’s memory properly and will share this with the LGBT sports community when it is ready.
Lev was a remarkable human being. He had a special talent at bringing people together from all walks of life and making them feel included. He was a larger-than-life figure whose colourful personality made all who knew him feel welcome. Nobody who has had the privilege of meeting Lev will ever forget the experience! He touched the lives of so many of us with his kindness, positivity and love. Our sincerest condolences go to his close family, friends and colleagues.
Lev, you were one of a kind. A truly special individual who it has been an honour to know and call our friend. Thank you for making Phoenix the club it is today.
Rest in peace Lev, from all at East End Phoenix FC.