Football tribute to tragic reservoir teen

Bockarie Sonnah. Picture: contributed
Bockarie Sonnah. Picture: contributed
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Friends of a teenager who drowned in a reservoir accident have arranged a tribute in his memory.

Bockarie Sonnah, 14, died after getting into difficulty in Torduff Reservoir at Bonaly Country Park on July 7.

Spurred on by their grief, Bockarie’s closest friends at Firrhill High came up with a fitting way to remember him – by holding a staff versus pupils football match. Now the game will be held annually throughout Bockarie’s classmates’ remaining school days.

Headteacher Sarah Brown said: “There were lots of ideas about how we would want to celebrate his life within the school, from benches to plaques.

“We worked with a group of pupils who were closest to Bockarie, who suggested that the most fitting tribute would be a football match. He had a great love of football.”

The first match, which was held last week, ended 5-5 but the pupils eventually won on penalties.

Plans are also in motion for a permanent memorial to be put in place at the school in the form of a Redhall Star football shirt with the number 17 – Bockarie’s favourite number – which will be signed by his classmates, framed and mounted.

Mrs Brown said: “It’s obviously a very sad time for us all, but at the same time Bockarie was a character who brought fun and life to the school.

“Hundreds of pupils came to watch the game, as well as 
parents and community representatives, including his sister, Mari, who presented the cup.”

A poignant programme created for the memorial match shows the impact Bockarie had on his schoolmates’ lives.

They wrote: “Being in a class with Bockarie was more than a privilege in our eyes, as every day was full of smiles and constant memory-making.

“He was extremely confident, funny and a massive character within the class.”

The programme also features heartfelt comments from Bockarie’s teachers.

Deputy headteacher Roberta Porter wrote: “Our mischief-maker who made it very difficult not to smile even when I was needing to reprimand him. Playing ‘keepy uppy’ in the corridor as homework is a classic example. Miss you every day.”

Bockarie’s Redhall Star coaches have also created a memorial to the youngster, planting a tree and fitting a plaque on a bench where he and his sister used to sit. A memorial service and football match was also held at the ground last month.

kaye.nicolson@edinburghnews.com