BY HENRY MHARA
Zimbabwe’s football family is mourning the loss of Zifa Northern Region Division One league chairman Willard Manyengavana, who died after collapsing during a gym work out yesterday morning.
Zifa councillor Sweeney Mushonga, who is a close associate of Manyengavana, confirmed the passing on of the veteran football administrator.
He said his close friend collapsed in the gym during an aerobics class and was rushed to the Avenues Clinic where he was pronounced dead.
Manyengavana is survived by wife Hilda and four children. Mourners are gathered at number 6167 Bloomingdale, Mabelreign in Harare.
Mushonga said funeral arrangements will be communicated in due course.
Condolence messages were pouring in yesterday as the local football family were trying to come to terms with the news of the tragic loss of a man who had given so much to local football.
In a statement, Zifa president Felton Kamambo said: “The Zimbabwe Football Association joins the local football family in mourning the passing of the Northern Region Chairperson, member of the ZIFA congress and veteran administrator, Willard Manyengavana. It is with a heavy heart that we convey sincere condolences to the family and friends of Willard Manyengavana, who passed on in the morning. We can never imagine what the deceased’s family are going through in this time of grief. As we mourn his sad departure, we celebrate his immense contribution in the development of local football. Football has lost a devoted servant, but his legacy will immortalise the mortal who left the living world this morning and it will bear testimony of excellence for generations.”
Manyengavana took over the reins at Northern Region Division One League six years ago and helped revolutionised it to arguably become the strongest of the four regions feeding the Premier Soccer League (PSL).
Motor Action, Gunners and Monomotapa were all promoted from the Northern Region One in recent years and went on to win Premier League titles.
Both Harare City and ZPC Kariba, who were promoted to the top tier league via the Northen Region, came close to winning the title.
Under Manyengavana’s watch the Northern Region league has enjoyed more sponsorship compared to the other three second tier leagues.
Manyengavana has also held influential posts at PSL side CAPS United and was also the PSL vice-chairman from 2006 to 2010.