With a powerful desire to honour late Guyanese basketballer Andrew Ifill, friends and family came together at the Maloney Indoor Sports Arena and played basketball matches in his honour on Sunday.
Ifill passed away on October 20 at the age of 40. His funeral will take place on Friday in his native Guyana. On the weekend though, he was eulogised by his former coaches Gordon "Dread" Felix of Detour Shak Attack, who was also his employer, Christopher Jackson-Charles of Maloney Pacers and ex-wife Pietra Gay, who also coached him when he was a member of the Royal Extra Lions basketball club.
"He was the same as a basketballer as he was a person," said Gay, T&T's first WNBA player. "Ifill was very passionate in everything that he put his mind to and he always gives 110 per cent. Very professional as a player and as a person. He showed a lot of love to persons, very humble but not on the basketball court, he was very fiery and passionate and never liked to lose."He was a fierce competitor, never backed down and hated to lose but was a force to be reckoned with. Phenomenal guy great heart great personality and in anything that he is doing he always gave his all."
Similar sentiments were shared by both Felix and Charles in their respective address to the small crowd gathered to celebrate the life of Ifill. With Charles recognising the power forward as one of the best player coming out of Guyana. Felix, who linked with Gay along with Nadine Khan and Sojourner Hyles to ensure the memorial match was possible, added that Ifill helped get his son into a high school in the US.
On Sunday evening, the gathering was treated to two matches, first between youth teams of Stories of Success Basketball Academy and Detour Shak Attack. Later the senior players from Ifill's former teams and clubs he competed against including National Flour Mills, Defence Force, Straker Nets mixed with some of the youthful players and formed teams. It was the red team versus the green with all carrying Ifill's No 7 on their backs. They put on an entertaining show with neither teams concerned about the final score.
Gay too was part of the exhibition match in honour of Ifill, who had some of the family in the audience including his cousin Kelvin Smith.
Though separated both stayed in touch, shared Gay who added: "After he stopped playing basketball he joined the Hebrew community faith — the Brotherhood of Israelites, and went by name - Yahawadah Yasharahla. After Ifill joined this organisation, he focused on that and gave it his all because once Ifill put his mind to something he's going to stay the course and he's going to finish what he started. As a basketball player, it was the same thing and as a person. So after basketball, he joined this faith and following the course that God gave him which he told me."
Arrangements are being made to transport Ifill back home to his native Guyana with the assistance from the Royal Extra Lions family.