Zimbabwe: Nation Mourns Football Icon
SPORT, Arts and Culture Minister, Andrew Langa, yesterday led the tributes as Zimbabweans mourned the death of iconic Warriors and Highlanders midfield superstar, Willard Mashinkila-Kumalo, who died in Bulawayo on Sunday.
Mashinkila-Kumalo lost a long battle against diabetes at the age of 49.
“The last time I was with him was when we took the Highlanders Legends to Tsholotsho. He was one of the players who emerged from that great Highlanders Under-18 team, which was known as Liverpool, to do great things for his team and his country,” Langa told The Herald. “I remember that he was promised by his father that if he scored against Dynamos, his father would buy him a car and, when he did that, he was handed a white VW by his proud dad.
“He loved his country, he was a good man, a humble man who was loved by everyone wherever he played his football, even here in Harare, he was very popular, and that speaks a lot about his relationship with the people of this country. “On behalf of my Ministry and the Government of Zimbabwe, I would like to send my sincere condolences to his family and the entire football community which has lost a man who was a big part of the game.
“All our sports fans, be it cricket, rugby, volleyball, should attend his burial and ensure that we give this Zimbabwe hero a befitting farewell and we also have to ensure that we take care of the family that he has left behind.”
Former Warriors coach Charles Mhlauri, who is now based in the United States where he is a director of coaching at Lightning Soccer Club in Vermont, said he was devastated by mashikila-Kumalo’s death.
“It’s a sad day for our football. He was such a nice guy and he was one of the best. At times life is so unfair. I knew he was fighting diabetes, it’s unfortunate he lost the fight but what we can say is that he fought a good fight.
“It is always tough to lose someone you worked with closely. We had great time together at the Warriors and outside the Warriors and when he was at Highlanders, Lancashire and Mwana Africa. He always remained a passionate gentleman of the game. “I am really devastated and I hope his family will find strength to move on “There will always be one ‘Nduna’ it’s sad . . . sad . . . sad!”
Former ZIFA board member Remigio Makoni, who worked with Mashinkila-Kumalo under the Rafik Khan leadership, said he was hit hard by news of the midfielder/coach’s death.
“My condolences go to the Kumalo family as well as the entire football fraternity. I was with Willard at the 2006 African Cup of Nations in Egypt and I found him to be a hard-working and professional coach who had a great personality.
“May his dear soul rest in peace,” Makoni said. FC Platinum coach, Norman Mapeza, paid tribute to the fallen football hero.
“We have lost a legend. It is one of those dark days in football. To me he was a brother. We played well together during the Dream Team days. I will go for the burial,” said Mapeza. Triangle coach, Kelvin Kaindu, who worked with Mashinkila-Kumalo at Bosso, said his death was a loss to the entire nation. “It is a loss to the nation and to the football family. He was a brother to me, we played together and then later in life worked together and it is such a blow to me. It’s very sad.
“My friend, may your soul rest in peace,” Kaindu said. Newsome Mutema, secretary general of Soccer Coaches Union of Zimbabwe said the football family has a lost a hero.
“We have lost a hero and a legend in the history of Zimbabwean football. We were working together with him as he was a member on our board which represents the interests of our local coaches. “He will be dearly missed and it is a big loss to us,” said Mutema. Herald
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