BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
DESPERATE fans wishing to bid farewell to Zimbabwean football legend David “Yogi” Mandigora, who died on Saturday, overwhelmed the organisers as scores thronged the Glen Forest Memorial Park in Harare yesterday defying government ban on large public gatherings.
At the weekend, government, battling to slow down COVID-19 infections which had been recorded in the past week, banned public gatherings, with only 30 people allowed to gather at funerals.
But the burial of the Dynamos football legend, which was supposed to be a private ceremony for only family members, close friends and the media, turned into a public gathering with well over 200 attendees.
Renowned yesteryear footballers Stanford “Stix” Mutizwa, Brenna Msiska, Norman Mapeza, Moses Chunga, Simon Sachiti, George Rollo, Nesbert Saruchera and even the great George Shaya, now visibly suffering the corrosive effects of time and ill-health, defied odds to be at the Glen Forest Memorial Park for the burial of one of Zimbabwe’s football icons.
Some fans, draped in the Dynamos colours, sang and danced as they paid their last respects to a man who contributed so much to the game in the country.
Sunday Chidzambga, who played with Yogi at Dynamos, said the football fraternity would miss him.
“He was a great player and coach. He contributed a lot to our football. We will miss him. He was an inspiration to so many footballers and we hope that Zimbabwe will continue to produce more players like him,” he said.
Chunga said Mandigora, the first Soccer Star in post-independent Zimbabwe, helped him settle and adapt at Dynamos when he joined them in the 1980s.
“He was an inspiration. When I joined Dynamos, there was a crisis, but he (Mandigora) helped me to adjust and quickly settle. He was one of the senior players who inspired me and it’s sad that football has lost such a resource,” Chunga said.
“But while we are paying tribute to him, I think we must move away from the tradition of remembering someone when they are dead. We should learn to appreciate and remember our legends when they are still alive.”
Dynamos chairperson Isaiah Mupfurutsa described Mandigora as a humble character and great coach whose passion and commitment to the Glamour Boys was unwavering.
“He was a humble guy with great ideas. He was a great motivator who attended most of the Dynamos training sessions, playing an advisory role. He was a great player who rose to become the first soccer star in post-independent Zimbabwe,” he said.
Mandigora, who died aged 64 after a long battle with peripheral vascular disease — a circulatory condition which narrows blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the limbs, was an enormous success at the Harare football giants, helping them win seven league titles as a player and then shepherded them to the semi-finals of the prestigious Caf African Champions League in 2008, having guided them to the league title the previous year in 2007 and ending a 10-year championship drought.
- Follow Tawanda on Twitter @Tafitawa