The soccer fraternity yesterday continued to mourn the death of former Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Geoff Gondwe who died Saturday at Blantyre Adventist Hospital after an illness.
Gondwe, a canny, dedicated and efficient football administrator during his time, served as FAM president from the mid 1990s to the turn of the millennium.
At the time he was forced to resign in 2000, he was also the vice-president of the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa).
Mount Pleasant CCAP Church, where he was a member, yesterday hosted a church service for Gondwe whose remains will be taken to his home village in Rumphi District for burial tomorrow.
Vigil is at his Sunny Side house in Blantyre.
Flames legend Ernest ‘Wire’ Mtawali described him as a fatherly figure.
“To me, I think he was more of a father. I remember there was this other time when he took the initiative to call me and we had a father-and-son conversation relating to the national team, that was his style. He was a cheerful man and very open,” he said.
In his tribute, FAM president Walter Nyamilandu described Gondwe as a great leader who pioneered the development of football not only in the country, but also the southern African region.
“I have lots of fond memories of him during my playing days. I remember him giving us a motivational talk during a 1998 World Cup qualifier against South Africa’s Bafana Bafana.
“It is a very sad moment for the football fraternity to keep losing such legends having just lost another former FAM president John Zingale two years ago. The late Gondwe was a well respected football administrator locally and within the region and our thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved family,” he said.
The association’s former acting general secretary and executive member George Kaudza Masina said he was at a loss for words.
“I served under him in the executive committee for about four years. He was a wonderful leader who knew the game well.”
Gondwe resigned as FAM president on January 31 2000 following pressure from the association’s then leadership which claimed that he had failed to control the then general secretary Gift Nyirenda while in South Africa for the Cosafa tournament in 1999. Nyirenda was fired for misconduct.
“You don’t resign after you have been fired, the people [at FAM] decided to fire me and they took off my powers as FAM president. So, I thought I could give way so they can proceed,” read part of Gondwe’s resignation letter.
He also claimed to have received death threats prior to his resignation.
Gondwe had earlier described the letter from FAM asking him to resign as “the joke of the century.” He was succeeded by the late Amos Kainja.
He turned down an appointment to serve in the Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) board in 1997.