Tragic Limerick soccer star remembered at charity tournament

Supporters of Wassiou Ayawe's sporting his number 10 shirt. Photo courtesy of Sandra Byrnes.

IT WAS a day of joy and some tears in the Pike Rovers grounds on Sunday (July 9), as family, friends, and teammates gathered to remember Wassiou Leon Ayawe, who lost his life in a jet ski accident in May.

Wassiou (19) was on day out on his new jet ski in Killaloe when the craft flipped and he became submerged, ultimately losing his life.

His foster mother, Sandra Byrnes – who lost her own daughter, Yasmin, to suicide in 2019 – was among the organisers of a soccer tournament to raise money for the Killaloe Coast Guard Unit, who found Wassiou on the tragic day and brought him back to shore.

“I wanted to raise money for the search and rescue and the divers because they brought him up,” Sandra told the Limerick Post.

Sandra is also campaigning to have lifesaving equipment placed behind glass at the riverside location.

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Speaking about the memorial tournament, held this past Sunday, Sandra said: “There was a fantastic turnout on Sunday and we raised €4,000. It would have been closer to €5,000 but there were some unexpected expenses.”

The tournament saw Wassiou’s teammates from Limerick FC and Pike Rovers line out, with his siblings also fielding a team. They sported the number 10 on their jerseys, the number the talented young player had worn in his time on the field.

“Even the weather wasn’t too bad. It was a day Wassiou would have loved but he would have been a tad disappointed that it wasn’t his brothers’ team that won and happy that the cup went to his childhood friend and soccer pal Garret Grant’s team and Jamie Leamy, all former Limerick FC, whom he also played for. Pike were the runners up.”

“If the money raised helps save one life, then it will have done something good,” said Sandra.