Tributes are pouring in for Super League of Malawi (Sulom) immediate past president Innocent Bottomani who died of Covid-19 complications at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe on Sunday.
The former commissioner of Malawi Police Service, has been described as strong, humble and accommodative person who advocated for football growth in the country.
Bottomani, who served as Sulom president for two terms between 2011 and 2019, is expected to be laid to rest Monday at his home in Kondwani Village, Traditional Authority Juma in Mulanje, according to his sister Patricia Kaliati who is also Minister of Gender, Social Welfare and Community Development.
Sulom president Tiya Somba-Banda has described the passing of his predecessor as a big blow to the local football fraternity.
He said: “We are really touched by this loss. Bottomani was our father and we will never forget his contribution towards football development in the country.
“He was the one that initiated Sulom’s idea of taking football as a business. Personally, I learned a lot from him and he was the one who encouraged me to take over from him.
“Until his death, he was my pillar as I sought advice from him time and again. He will be greatly missed. May his soul rest in eternal peace.”
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu said: “It’s shocking. I am lost for words. He has left an indelible mark in the administration of football being a former president of Sulom and chairperson of Blue Eagles FC.
“He was one of the pioneers of the Super League who laid the strong foundation that we have at the moment. He was a pillar and metor to many people in football. We will forever miss him.”
On his part, FAM vice-president Jabber Alide said: “It is very shocking to hear about his death. Malawi football has lost a sober-minded person who was able to sort out very big problems in a peaceful manner. Malawi football, FAM in particular, will greatly miss him.”
Former FAM general secretary George Kaudza Masina said Malawi has lost a great football administrator.
“He was a down to earth person who knew how to motivate his peers, evident from the success of Blue Eagles FC and Sulom under his tutelage. We have lost a man who loved football with passion.”
Kaliati said her brother, who was born on August 1 1966 and is survived by a son and a daughter, was a pillar of the family.
“He was humble and accommodatng. He was with our family both in good and bad times. We have lost a pillar and it will take time for our wounds to heal. May he rest in eternal peace,” she said.