DUBAI // With his passion for rugby, the most fitting way to pay tribute to Anton Tahmasian was to hold a tournament in his memory.
And so, yesterday, more than 100 of his friends and family gathered at his former school, The English College, Dubai, for the inaugural Anton's Cup.
Anton collapsed and died after inhaling butane gas at a graduation party last year. He was 16 years old.
The tournament was launched by his younger sister, Karmen, and one of his friends as a way of keeping his memory alive. Ten teams from various schools and clubs took part.
Karmen, 15, said: "This is for you, Anton. I hoped you were playing with us but it feels that you are around us."
Anton's picture and his rugby ball, together with a trophy bearing his name, were placed on a table in the middle of the school's playground. Talk among teenagers, parents and teachers centred on how much Anton loved life and was always active.
Karmen said: "He was a cheerful guy. All my memories of him are cheerful and I want to keep it that way so therefore we organised this match to do what he loved to do."
Charles Richardson, 16, one of Anton's close friends, said he would try to make the tournament an annual event.
"We grew up together. He was a person who loved life and he always wanted to do things so I got this idea to keep his memory alive," he said.
The event also raised donations for two organisations - the Borneo Child Aid Society and the Orang Utan Sanctuary in Malaysia - through a Dh50 registration fee from the players and the sale of beverages and snacks, sponsored by companies and parents.
A T-shirt with "Anton's Cup 2011" printed on the front and "This one is for you, Anton" on the back, was also on sale for Dh25.
Helen Tahmasian, Anton's mother, said: "Anton loved animals, nature and being outside and he wanted to visit the sanctuary therefore we decided to raise the money for it.
She said the support of friends and family had "made us realise how precious Anton was".
Providing that support was what made Fleur Van Rnyn-Behm, a friend of Anton, participate. She said: "I am here to remember Anton for the good things that he was known for. He was strong-minded and if he wanted to do something nothing would stop him."
But Miss Van Rnyn-Behm said a hard lesson had been learnt by the way in which Anton died.
"It is sad that a life had to be taken away for us to learn something. We all think that it could not happen to us but the fact that it happened to someone we knew mattered a lot," she said.
Jon Kendry, the touch rugby coach at The English College, Dubai, said that getting together to play the game Anton loved was a way to remember the good things about his life rather than what went wrong, but that it could also spread awareness of the dangers of substance abuse.
"It is difficult to quote a terrible example such as this but we can do that and his friends have learnt a lesson," he said.
Anton's Cup was won by The Originals, a team made up of former schoolmates from the English College, Dubai, who beat a team from Jumeirah College in the final. The final try was scored by Karmen, which Anton's mother described as "fitting".