By John Elambo
As a coach, Jamal Ali was always there for his players and would often buy shoes for the ones who may not have been able to afford them or provide rides for others who didn’t have a way to get to practice.
The Scarborough Basketball Association (SBA) wanted to honour his commitment and community spirit after Ali sadly passed away on April 10, 2020 due to Covid 19 at the age of 45.
To that end, the club has created the SBA Jamal Ali Memorial Scholarship, which is available to students entering their first or second year of post-secondary education who have participated in authorized SBA programs for a minimum of five years.
After his passing Sam Moncada, President of the SBA, knew they had to do something special to honour Ali and that’s where the idea of a scholarship in his name came from.
“He was a special kind-hearted individual that really cares about the kids he coached,” Moncada said. “He was a great friend, teammate, coach, father and overall great person. We all knew we had to do something to keep his legacy.
“HIS FAMILY AGREED TO HAVE HIM HONOURED THIS WAY, BECAUSE HIS MEMORY WILL CONTINUE ON THROUGH A SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM FOR SBA KIDS.”
Moncada considered Ali a good friend.
“I really got to know him when he started playing in the SBA men’s league and was on my team. He was a great teammate, with a great heart and was willing to work hard at any position,” said Moncada, who added Ali was always committed and loyal to any SBA activity.
Ali started his coaching career five years ago when he brought his son out for a tryout, and once his son was selected to a team, he stepped up to volunteer as an assistant coach, Moncada said.
“He was an assistant coach and then asked if he could help lead a team as a head coach,” Moncada said. “He was so excited about all these new and creative coaching initiatives he wanted to bring to help the kids, fitness, nutrition, mentor ship, yoga and so many other ideas.”
A friend and assistant coach on some of Ali’s teams, Armando Marino said Ali was always confident in his team, which Marino admired.
“He tried to push all the boys to work harder and put their all into it,” Marino said.
There were times when they butted heads and didn’t always agree with one another, but they always talked about it afterward and got back on the same page. Their relationship grew and developed to the point where it was more than just basketball.
“We became friends, talking on the phone or texting each other about basketball, the kids and life,” Marino said.
He said that Ali’s passing was an incredible loss and remains hard to not think about.
“I will miss chatting with him on a regular basis and standing next to him while we’re practicing or playing games,” he said.
Ali’s sister, Sujan, said her brother had an infectious personality.
“He was creative, and I loved his artwork and his photography, I was always harping on him for being late or showing up to things at random but now that I think about it, this is how family should be – to show up,” she said. “He loved spicy food, so we always had chilli peppers or hot sauce for him at dinner parties. He would always start eating first too. He was brave, a risk-taker and caring.”
She said it’s wonderful that her brother’s legacy will continue through a scholarship.
“It’s validating that he will be remembered for the work that he has done, and other kids will be able to benefit from a scholarship to help them,” said Sujan, who has created a fundraiser for “Hope Foundation for Women and Children of Bangladesh” in her brother’s name. “Coaching basketball meant a lot to him and I’m happy to know that he will be remembered this way.”
Funds for the scholarship are provided through donations from generous SBA members throughout the year. The funds raised will determine both the number and value of scholarships awarded each year. The SBA thanks all those who have contributed either through direct donations or by participating in fundraising initiatives.
To find out more about how you may contribute to the Scholarship Fund and support our players, or if you have any questions regarding the SBA Jamal Ali Memorial Scholarship, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.