REECE Agbenla has thrived since arriving in Australia from the Philippines two years ago, but his time has been marked with some sadness.
The 13-year-old Greenwood resident’s father Bama Agbenla died of leukaemia not long after the family’s migration.
With Mr Agbenla having been a vocal supporter at Reece’s basketball games with the Stirling Senators, his death left a noticeable absence on the sidelines at Warwick Stadium.
It is fitting then that Reece will spend Australia Day playing the game he associates with some of his most cherished times in the country.
Reece will represent Stirling’s under-14 team at the world’s biggest junior basketball showdown – the Eltham-Dandenong Junior Basketball Tournament in Melbourne, starting on Thursday.
Financial difficulties had the youngster at risk of being unable to attend, but in a show of community spirit, a $750 sponsorship from WA company e Fire and Safety got him the funds he needed.
His mother Leonor, who works as a nurse while raising two children, said she could not thank the company enough.
“He loves playing basketball and it’s been amazing to see his teammates and the community rally around him to get him to Melbourne,” she said.
“I know his Dad would be so proud of him.”
Managing director of e Fire and Safety Richard Elkington was pleased to assist.
“It’s a tough thing for a child to lose a parent and if our sponsorship means that Reece can travel with his team to Victoria and have a memorable experience playing the game he loves then we’re happy for him.”