- National Teams
The passing of Fiona Murray Pirilla, a former England international and prominent figure in British women’s basketball, is being mourned by the basketball community.
She passed away last month at the age of 57 due to Myelo Dysplastic Syndrome (MDS) and was laid to rest this week, with numerous former teammates and coaches attending her funeral.
Fiona made a name for herself as a dominant centre with Avon Cosmetics Northampton in the 1980s after earning a scholarship in the US, and went on to play for West Bromwich and Birmingham in the West Midlands League.
She won multiple awards, including the English Player of the Year Awards and a gold medal with England at the Commonwealth Basketball Championships in 1991. Fiona also represented GB Students at World University Games in 1985 and 1987.
Basketball England board member Sadie Mason, a former England teammate and friend of Fiona commented:
“She was such a tough player and obviously tall, but she was characterised by her elegance and determination.
“She was a fantastic team-mate too and showed great strength in dealing with her illness.”
Simon Kirkland, a former CEO of Basketball England and one-time coach of Fiona, also paid tribute to her:
“Very sad to see a lovely player and a stalwart in basketball pass away. Fiona Murray was three times England player of the year and a wonderful representative as a person for the country and clubs she paid for, in particular, West Bromwich, Northampton and Birmingham.”
A minute’s applause to celebrate Fiona’s life and playing career will take place ahead of each of the women’s games at this weekend’s Playoff Finals at the National Basketball Performance Centre in Manchester, which will also be a tribute to former Stockport Lapwings coach Jim Bennison, who also passed away this month.