The sudden passing of Richard Elias Fakoory left me stunned in the same manner as that of young Stefan Monteil. Richard was 71 and I never knew him to have any health issues so when he died with his wife at his side, it made me yet again reflect on life. It brought back memories of a conversation between my good friend Stanley Hunter and I in our younger days after I said to him, “Stan boy you moving fast I hope you don't suffer from burn out.” His immediate response was, “Murray, let me tell you something, this life ain't no dress rehearsal so I living and furthermore, I never met anybody who said to me they were here before.” I couldn't argue with those words as they were so true.
Fakoory was a true gentleman - very humble and always willing to reach out to whoever was in need of his assistance. I met the gentleman some 31 years ago when he approached me seeking sponsorship, not for football, but basketball as he had just started the Super10 Basketball League (SBL). It was my first encounter with him and he appeared very genuine in wanting to support the youths and get them off the streets and playing basketball.
The Super10 consisted of the 10 best playing basketball teams in the country playing for prize money that exceeded the expectations of the basketball fraternity. Gentleman Richard and his partner Dave Ramkissoon pounded the pavements seeking sponsorship and of course he succeeded in reaching his goals because it was felt that with Richard at the helm with his administrative and operational skills, the league was going to be successful. It certainly was successful as the league operated for many years and the template for its success was copied by the National Basketball Federation (NBF) of T&T.
It was no surprise to me when he got more involved in football again assisting the youths. He always placed the players at the forefront and always wanted what he felt would have been best for them. At the time I was still working at Carib and a couple of the guys from the bottling hall came to my office one day and said they wanted to enter a team in the then TTFF East zone. I thought it was a delusional idea - a bunch of factory workers who bottle beer and work in the various warehouses want to tackle the powerhouses of the East zone like San Juan Jabloteh and the likes? Worse than that, they asked me to coach the team. Not wanting to refuse them as I felt integration with the office staff and the guys from the factory was good for morale within the company, I obliged.
I was pleasantly surprised at the ability of the guys and I felt once I could instil some discipline and organisation into the team, they would do well and suddenly other teams started to take notice of the Carib FC team. They were making a name for themselves in the East Zone. I was quite content to go along with the players I had as we kept the squad confined to those who actually worked at the Brewery.
The reason for this background is simple. One day I got a phone call from Richard and he said he had a player for me. I told him I did not need any players as I have enough here on the team. He literally begged me and would not put down the phone. He said the player would run through a brick wall for me and all he wanted me to do was give him a job. That player was Marvin Andrews. Marvin at the time had represented the T&T youth team but had suffered a series of injuries and was just returning to competitive football.
Here was Richard Fakoory offering me a player that would have made his team - ECM Motown - without a problem but his major concern was not himself or his own team, but for Marvin to get a job and still play football at a competitive level. History would show that with Marvin in the team, we went on to win the East Zone and qualified for the Champion of Champions league and then qualified for the Semi-pro League. At that point, I couldn't continue and Marvin left for a professional contract with Raith Rovers F.C. in Scotland but all this was because of Richard Fakoory.
Every time I encountered Richard he was the same way. I never heard him raise his voice even though some of the people who worked with him in basketball would tell a different story - he was tough. I met him in the grocery with his wife shopping a few weeks ago and he was chatting to me about local football. I could have felt the pain in his voice and he said to me, “would you come on board?” and I promised him we will talk. Sadly that was my final discussion with him.
Richard Fakoory will always be remembered as a people's person and my deepest condolences to his family and all those who were touched by his genuine kindness. May he rest in peace.
SOURCE: T&T Guardian