Former Dynamos chairman and Premier Soccer League (PSL) founder Morrison Sifelani, who died last Thursday, was laid to rest at his rural home in Ntabazinduna on Thursday.
Hundreds of mourners, including former administrators, former players, businessmen and politicians, gathered at Ntabazinduna to bid farewell to Sifelani, whom speakers described as an honest and successful man who always wanted to see football prosper in Zimbabwe.
Sifelani (75) died in Gweru from diarrhoea.
Zifa vice-president (administration) Ndumiso Gumede described Sifelani as a straightforward man.
“I first met him (Sifelani) in 1969 when I went to teach at Highfield Secondary School in Harare and once we met, we interacted a lot. I was representing Highlanders in Harare and he had links with Dynamos where he had played.
“He was a prolific speaker. I would consult him when we had problems at Highlanders. He had facts on his fingertips and he was eloquent and progressive. He had a vision for professionalism. He always wanted the game to attract sponsors and to be a branded league but only a few people understood him then.
“He was instrumental in the formation of the PSL. He was not quick to speak but made his point. I am saddened that football has not recognised Sifelani. If there is anyone who deserved honorary life membership of Zifa, it must be this man.
“Unfortunately there is a new crop of administrators who have not been given that perspective. There is no way you can talk about football in Zimbabwe without talking about Sifelani. Unfortunately he is gone now,” Gumede said.
Gumede said before Sifelani passed away last Thursday, he had called him to say he wanted to meet him to discuss the way forward for Zimbabwean football.
Former Dynamos player Bernard Marriot, who played alongside Sifelani at Dynamos in the ’60s, gave a heart-rending eulogy to the former Dynamos chairman saying he had left a void that could not be filled.
“I first knew him in 1962, the actual year when Dynamos was formed and when the non-racial soccer league was founded. The man has left a legacy that cannot be replaced,” Marriott said.
Former Zimbabwe Saints chairman and ex-Zifa vice- president Vincent Pamire, who also attended the burial, could not stomach the death of a man he said he worked with over a long period.
“I worked with him for a very long time. We were together at the formation of the PSL and I left to join Zifa. He was a great football administrator. It was for the love of football that at times he left his business now and again to concentrate on the game,” Pamire said.
His son Kelvin, a former radio personality, now based in the United Kingdom, almost broke down and said: “I know that he was well-known to most people.
“The most important thing is that if you love people, they will in turn love you. Finally I thank you and all people who at some point brushed shoulders with my father and made him the man that he was.”
Sifelani was described by speakers as man of many jackets, who was into soccer, business, church and politics.
At the time of his death, Sifelani, who was an active member of Zapu, was said to be involved in constitution consultations with Copac in the Midlands.
Also attending the burial were the Minister of Regional Integration and International Cooperation Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, immediate past president of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce Obert Sibanda, national vice-chairperson of Zimbabwe Women’s Soccer Cecelia Mudzana-Malunga, her secretary Samkeliso Silengane, local chiefs and headmen.
Sifelani was born in Ntabazinduna in 1935 and did his primary education at David Livingstone Memorial before moving to Dadaya Mission for his secondary schooling.
He matriculated (equivalent to “A” Level) at Thekwane Secondary School.
Sifelani worked for the government, Lonrho Motor Industries as a general manager and ZimTrade as chief executive officer.
He is survived by Margaret (nee Tshuma) and 11 children.