Government has honoured former Malawi national netball coach Griffin Saenda as he was laid to rest yesterday at HHI Cemetery in Blantyre.
A cross-section of people from all walks of life paid their last respects to Saenda at Blantyre Youth Centre (BYC), where the funeral ceremony, including a church service, was held.
Saenda died Thursday morning at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, aged 60, after suffering from stroke.
In his eulogy, Minister of Youth and Sports Ulemu Msungama said the deceased contributed to the development of netball in the country by, among other things, nurturing players as well as coaches.
In honour of Saenda’s legacy the minister said he has proposed that the indoor sports court, to be built in Lilongwe, be named after the netball legend.
“Just as the family is in mourning, we are also lost for words because Mr Saenda inspired Malawi to be known worldwide.
“This week construction works for the indoor sports complex, which will also house netball court at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe, will start. I propose that it should be named Griffin Saenda Sports Complex.”
Msungama said this is the beginning of a process to honour sports legends in the country.
In his remarks, Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) acting executive secretary Henry Mereka
who described Saenda as humble with likeable personality, was the father figure of sports, including netball.
He said: “We are celebrating the life of Mr Saenda because he contributed a lot to the development of sports, including netball.
“It is unfortunate that Mr Saenda has died while we are in the process of honouring sports legends and his name was on the list. We will still honour him as a sports legend.”
Mereka commended the government, among others, for giving him a befitting funeral ceremony and also bought a K1 million casket.
He also said Saenda served in a number of roles including, Kamuzu Institite for Sports principal, stadium manager and later regional sports development officer. He was also appointed welfare committee chaiperson.
Diamonds (formerly Kukoma Diamonds and Escom Sisters) assistant coach Noel Mussa said he brought him to netball.
He said: “I knew Mr Saenda in 1992 and turned me into netball coach from basketball.
“He coached the team for 14 years and among others produced players such as Mwawi Kumwenda and Towera Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda. This is a big loss to the club.”
Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) vice-general secretary Brian Gausi also said Saenda was a hero in netball, having coached Civonets, Tigresses, Yellow Sisters, Kukoma Diamonds and the national team.
During the funeral, former netball players, including Mary Waya, Judith Chalusa featured in a short demonstration match. Balloons in national colours, green, red and black were released in the air as mourners made a round of applause.
The minister also bestowed a medal of honour to Saenda posthumously, received by his sister Mary Makunganya a well-known netball fan herself.
President Lazarus Chakwera offered K500 000 to the bereaved family, Vice-President Saulos Chilima (K400 000), former sports minister Yeremiah Chihana, Sports Council and NAM 100 100 each.