Legacy of NZ futsal ace Atta Elayyan honoured by teammates

New Zealand futsal goalkeeper Atta Elayyan was praying in the Al Noor Mosque when the shooter opened fire on March 15, 2019.

To this day, Atta's inspiring legacy lives on through his family, friends, and teammates.

"I think about it every day," said Hamish Mitchell, one of Atta's Canterbury Futsal teammates."It still hasn't sunk in with me personally.

"Atta had time for everyone. He was the friendliest guy."

His coach Ronan Naicker recalled his commitment to both his own and the next generation of futsal players.

"He was the glue within the squad," said Naicker. "You always have different groups within any squad, but he was always able to go across all of them.

It's a legacy that his team continue to honour in many aspects of their lives.

"Last year, we had the shirt we wore on the bench for every game so that was a bit of inspiration," Mitchell said.

"I personally wear a black armband with his initials on it, and I have a tattoo for him."

The 'Atta Empathy Shield' has also been created, which will be played for in a ten-team tournament next month.

"It's just an opportunity for everyone to get together, to play futsal and to remember him the way he'd want to be remembered," said Naicker.

The word "empathy" was chosen because the team say it was one of Atta's endearing qualities.

Success was another one.

The 33-year old goal-keeper won two national titles with Canterbury and made 19 appearances for New Zealand

"It just goes to show that regardless of where you come from, you're able to go across many different communities and also still be the same person, and he was the perfect symbol of that."

Atta's life may have been cruelly cut short, but his passion for people and the game will never be forgotten in the futsal community.

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