Former FIBA referee Cecil Chin pays tribute to ‘a man whose heart was as big as a basketball’

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Colonel McPherson’s life in basketball from 1991 to the time of his passing:
IT seems just a few weeks ago that Theron Caesar and Joe Chapman approached me and said, “Chino, we need a good man to run basketball, Colonel McPherson ran the just concluded Guyana Games  which was very successful, you think he would consider taking up the appointment?” I approached the Colonel, and his response was, “Cecil, I never played basketball”. My reply was, “We don’t want you to play; we want you to be the administrator.” That was in 1991. 

By 1995, the basketball fraternity in the Caribbean had acknowledged the title (Colonel) as a household name for every aspect of the game.

Local tournaments took on a new flair. Incentives and awards for players and officials were reinforced and with a high degree of happiness and achievements.

The Colonel spearheaded the following tournaments. From the period 1991 to 1993, tournaments were being played in and out of Guyana with both male and female (senior and junior) teams competing. In 1994, Guyana hosted its third successful CARICOM Championships which were previously held in 1981 under J.C. Yates and in 1988 under Colonel Carl Morgan.

During this period (1991 to 1994), referees were sent to Jamaica and Trinidad and also in Guyana to recertify and aspire for the FIBA licence. Guyana was also involved in tournaments in Suriname with their Dutch counterparts.

The year 1995 was a big one for basketball: First time ever a junior national team (male) participated in a tournament in the United States of America with a high degree of recognition and successes.

Male and female senior teams went to the Bahamas for CARICOM Championships.

Guyana participated in the inaugural junior male CARICOM Championships in the Cayman Islands.

By 1996, the Basketball Fraternity were endearing themselves to the Colonel. Early in 1996, as president of the GABF, he attended an important meeting in Trinidad and Tobago to help a flagging CARICOM basketball executive. His contribution to that meeting helped to direct a new way forward. He left that meeting as First vice-president with responsibility for planning and administration. He was no stranger to Caribbean Sport, thus his knowledge and expertise were sought and fully accepted. He continuously promoted the game of basketball in Guyana and with close association with colleagues in the USA he was able to assist in the acquisition of sponsorship and scholarships for players and officials.

In 1996, the Colonel managed male and female teams for the CARICOM Championships in Trinidad & Tobago. The male team, placed third and for the first time ever, the female players were crowned Champions of CARICOM Basketball.

In 1997, as acting president, in Jamaica he enhanced Guyana’s position to host the junior tournament which was scheduled for 1999.

In 1998, managing the defending female champions to Belize, he was very disappointed when the girls lost to eventual winners, Bahamas, in a gruelling and hard-fought’ semifinal.

He returned to Guyana with a strong desire to ensure that the basketball fraternity should become competitive and succeed at all levels again. At the time of his demise he was still heading the Basketball Fraternity.

My personal experiences with the Colonel began way back in the Guyana Defence Force in 1970 when he was a young officer responsible for football. I, being a member of the team, was able to reach the finals even though we lost to the Transport Sports Club team.

This helped the GDF to be promoted to Senior Football, a position they still hold.

Throughout the years of having the privilege of serving and working along with the Colonel, I also learnt about the ‘many faces’ he displayed.

He was very disciplined, and committed, very witty and humorous, always available to lend a listening ear and to give advice.

It is with deep sadness that I do this tribute. I became a better person, having been given the opportunity to spend such a short time and knowing and sharing the life and times of Godwin Ferdinand McPherson – Husband, Father, Officer and Friend. Rest in Peace, Colonel!