Mateo Cornejo had finally figured out a way to differentiate between Farouk and Fayek Bseiso.
The twins played soccer at St. David’s School, and Cornejo looked to them as heroes, especially Farouk.
When Cornejo would see them together as a child, “I’d go ‘Fayek?’ and he’d be, ‘Farouk,’ ” the St. David’s junior said. “He was always the taller one, and that’s how I could tell.”
Before Farouk Bseiso left St. David’s as a 2008 graduate, he stamped a lasting legacy on the soccer program, leading it to its first state championship. The Warriors won titles in 2006 and 2007.
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When Bseiso died in July 2014 from carbon monoxide poisoning in Prague, Czech Republic, St. David’s wanted to honor him.
Two years ago, the Raleigh school’s annual soccer tournament was named the Farouk Bseiso Memorial Soccer Tournament. The event was held Friday and Saturday.
He was one of the nicest people I’ve ever known. I’ve known him since I was 5-years old. He gave everything to him teammates, to his school, to the game of soccer. To do something like this every year is one of the best things to honor one of our best friends.
St. David’s assistant coach and former player Bobby Ellstrom
After St. David’s, Bseiso continued a four-year soccer career at N.C. State, becoming the team captain his senior year. He signed with Finland’s FC Espoo and then played on FC Viikingit in January 2014.
He was a member of the Railhawks U-23 club that won a USASA title in 2011 and always had a passion for soccer.
“I don’t remember going to a soccer game and him not being there,” said Cornejo, the son of Warriors coach Jose Cornejo. “Growing up, he was an example to me of how to be a good person on and off the field. The way he carried himself on the field, it really reflected on me. That’s why I wear number five. It’s a reminder of, when I’m frustrated and not having the best game, that I’m playing for him, to play how he played.”
Bseiso’s friends, former teammates and family were present as the Warriors blanked Trinity School 8-0 on Saturday. They fell to Fayetteville Academy, 4-2, the previous day.
He was the happiest guy I knew, he always had a smile. I came to school for my senior year, and he was the one who took me in and made me part of the team. From Day 1, he made me feel like I was part of the team.
Former St. David’s soccer player Marlon Breve
Jose Cornejo said he couldn’t think of a better way to keep Bseiso’s memory alive.
“He was such a good person, a good soccer player, but a good person,” Cornejo said of a player he had coached since the age of 10. “He was a beautiful human being.”
Bseiso’s mother, Dima Sabi, was proud her late son could inspire the memorial tournament.
His passions were friends, family and soccer, so I think for us to name the tournament after him is what he would want.
Former St. David’s soccer player Nicholas Petri
She said the loss was tough on his twin, who now lives in Charlotte.
“They spent around a year together in Raleigh before Farouk went to Finland,” Sabi said. “They actually never saw each other again. Farouk traveled in January and we lost him in July.”
Bseiso’s older sister, Dana, lives in Los Angeles.
Sabi said the St. David’s community was a big part of their family.
“Farouk, he loved people,” Sabi said. “(The tournament) is an amazing honor to me. That’s the type of person he was, these are the things he inspired. Our school is like a family. The school raised Farouk with me.
“So the loss you feel, it wasn’t only my loss.”
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan