The foot­ball fra­ter­ni­ty was plunged in­to mourn­ing yes­ter­day fol­low­ing the un­time­ly pass­ing of Richard Fakoory, this coun­try's 'gen­tle gi­ant in foot­ball' at the age of 71.

Fakoory who has ded­i­cat­ed his en­tire life to the de­vel­op­ment of the youth through sports, par­tic­u­lar­ly in bas­ket­ball and foot­ball, died at the West­shore Med­ical Hos­pi­tal at about 4:45 am yes­ter­day morn­ing, mere min­utes af­ter send­ing a What­sApp mes­sage to his Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer (CEO) at the T&T Pro League Ju­lia Bap­tiste, to re­mind her of busi­ness re­lat­ed to the Youth Pro League.

An au­top­sy per­formed yes­ter­day re­vealed that death was due to a mas­sive pul­monary aneurysm.

Fakoory was the chair­man of the T&T Pro League, tak­ing over for Sam Phillips who re­signed last year, and was al­so an ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber of St Ann's Rangers, a club he found­ed and man­aged for many years up un­til a few months ago.

His pass­ing came a day af­ter he had emer­gency surgery for a block­age in his ab­dom­i­nal, which was suc­cess­ful.

The foot­ball and bas­ket­ball fra­ter­ni­ties took all of yes­ter­day to di­gest the shock­ing news of his death.

Bap­tiste, with whom he shared a close friend­ship as col­leagues in the pro league, was lost for words. "It was on­ly about min­utes af­ter 4 am that he sent me a What­sapp mes­sage about let­ters done for the Youth Pro League, and then to hear soon af­ter that he had passed. It's dif­fi­cult to deal with this loss, but I will al­ways re­mem­ber him as some­one who loved the game of foot­ball, some­one who loved the youths and was pas­sion­ate to help" Bap­tiste said.

She added, "Fakoory was al­so some­one who wasn't afraid to speak his mind when he felt he should. But above all, he was gen­uine­ly a nice per­son, down-to-earth, pas­sion­ate about help­ing the young peo­ple in the coun­try and a true friend."

Fakoory and Su­per­star Rangers

Fakoory's en­try in­to the foot­ball fray be­gan some 40 years ago with Su­per­star Rangers which won count­less ti­tles in the North­ern Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (NFA). The St Ann's based club al­so par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Se­mi-Pro­fes­sion­al Foot­ball League and lat­er the Pro­fes­sion­al Foot­ball League which start­ed back in 1998. How­ev­er, Fakoory was any­thing but both­ered by the win­nings in the coun­try's top-flight or sec­ond-tier foot­ball leagues, and found hap­pi­ness in un­earthing young tal­ent, nur­tur­ing them, pro­vid­ing them with the tools to sur­vive, and en­sur­ing they be­come de­cent cit­i­zens, al­though it had cost him a for­tune.

Pres­i­dent John-Williams sends con­do­lences

Pres­i­dent of the TTFA David John-Williams ex­pressed his sym­pa­thy to Richard’s wife An­gela and his two chil­dren Kyle and Rachel.

He said “I am in­deed ex­treme­ly shock up­on hear­ing this sad news. Richard was a stal­wart and life­long ser­vant of foot­ball and sport in T&T. It is a tremen­dous loss for sport in gen­er­al and I wish to ex­tend deep­est con­do­lences to his wife and fam­i­ly.”

He not­ed "The mem­bers of the TTFA and the foot­ball fra­ter­ni­ty are deeply sad­dened by this news. Richard’s love for the game and his gen­tle soul will for­ev­er re­main in our hearts. May God give him eter­nal rest and his fam­i­ly the strength to bear this great pain."

Bas­ket­ball ref Cowie re­flects

Mean­while, Kwame Cowie, mem­ber of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Bas­ket­ball Of­fi­cials of T&T (ABOTT) and ref­er­ee said, " I re­call the days of the orig­i­nal Su­per Ten Bas­ket­ball Tour­na­ment that had Richard at the helm. In fact, he was the face of the tour­na­ment and would de­mand the high­est stan­dard from all par­tic­i­pants. Even though I was not a se­nior mem­ber in ABOTT at that time, I was quite fa­mil­iar with the arrange­ments that at times in­volved Richard of­fer­ing com­plete ref­er­ee’s kits in­clu­sive of jack­ets."

"He was the on­ly or­ga­niz­er in the sport that of­fered pro­tec­tion to ABOTT mem­bers, such that play­ers would be fined for show­ing ob­jec­tion to any calls made by us. It was ob­vi­ous that his ob­jec­tive was all aimed at im­prov­ing the over­all im­age and stan­dard of the sport, to the ex­tent that play­ers could be fined for wear­ing dinged white or dirty socks," Cowie ex­plained.