Fundraising football match planned in Southwick after sudden death of ‘lovely lad’

Southwick Football Club in Old Barn Way, Southwick
Southwick Football Club in Old Barn Way, Southwick

A fundraising football match has been planned to help support the family of a ‘lovely, happy and boisterous’ 18-year-old, who died suddenly on Sunday after a short illness.

Joshua Ayuba, who completed sixth form at Portslade Aldridge Community Academy earlier this year, had ‘great potential’ in football and started playing in the under 21’s team at Southwick Football Club, in Old Barn Way, Southwick, in April.

Mark Hilfiker, manager of the under 21’s team, said: “He was an absolutely lovely lad, always smiling and he loved his football.

“He would do absolutely anything for it – from catching a bus from the centre of Brighton to Saltdean and walking two or three miles for a match if his lift fell through, just so he wouldn’t let the boys down.

“That sort of chap.

“He was very happy, very boisterous.”

His death came just ten days or so after Joshua first complained of a bad earache to Mr Hilfiker, who understands that Joshua was taken to hospital where he died in the early hours of Sunday (September, 3).

“It’s a dreadful loss,” Mr Hilfiker said.

Mr Hilfiker, along with Paul Dolner from Burgess Hill Football Club, who also knew Joshua well, is organising a fundraising football match at the club with a 3pm kick off on Sunday, September 17.

They hope to raise as much money as possible to help Joshua’s family.

Alan Petken, chairman of the club, said he was ‘very sad’ to hear the news and expressed his gratitude after receiving more than 50 offers of support for the match from other football clubs in the area.

In a statement on the school’s website, a spokesman for Portslade Aldridge Community Academy (PACA) said: “Josh had just left PACA sixth form having completed his studies in Business Studies, Biology and Psychology.

“He was a key member of the PACA football academy and had been supporting the incoming members with pre-season training as recently as last week.

“Josh worked hard, with part time jobs and his studies and enjoyed making music in his spare time.

“We understand that his plans for the future included travelling in America and university.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this very difficult time.”

The school said it would remember Joshua’s enthusiasm for football by awarding a shield each year in his memory at the annual awards ceremony.