…as thousands bid Gundani farewell
FOOTBALLERS Union of Zimbabwe (FUZ) president Desmond Maringwa broke down as he struggled to go through his prepared speech at a church service held in honour of the late soccer national team player Paul Gundani.
BY Blessed Mhlanga
Maringwa required nearly five minutes to get composed after he sobbed uncontrollably as he stumbled to find words ahead of Gundani’s burial at Kwekwe cemetery yesterday.
The two had worked closely in establishing FUZ — the first union in the history of Zimbabwean sport — and at the time of his death last Wednesday, Gundani was the secretary-general of the union.
In a packed auditorium at the Mining Museum, Maringwa declared Gundani a football hero and a legend who devoted his life to defend the rights of the downtrodden football players in the country.
Zifa chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze, who also attended the burial among the who is who in Zimbabwean sport, also declared Gundani an “honest hero” of sport whose memory should not be desecrated by allowing FUZ to fail.
Mashingaidze said it was Gundani who had persuaded Zifa to lift the suspensions imposed on players over the Asiagate match-fixing scandal after he demanded to know why the players were being punished for the sins of administrators.
Sport and Recreation minister, Makhosini Hlongwane also paid his last respects among thousands of football fans, administrators, family and friends, including international guests who graced the occasion.
“Paul is a war veteran of the sports movement. He is a hero for the struggle of emancipation of sports personalities in this country and his memory should not be forgotten,” the minister said.
He also said his ministry was pushing to have basic minimum wage for sportspersons and to ensure that each team has a pension fund for its players as his ministry moves to improve the quality of employment through sport for Zimbabweans.
“We want to have the basic minimum wage for players so that they are not taken advantage of in the different levels and spheres of interaction, because government takes sport as a crucial employment area which can create employment for over a million of our people,” he said.
Kwekwe mayor, Matenda Madzoke urged government to establish a monument which would be dedicated for the burial of sport icons like Gundani.
“We should have a national sports icons acre where we bury those legends in the sporting fraternity who would have flown the flag of this country high. It is my humble belief that this breed of people deserve to be honoured as we encourage the future generation to copy and excel,” he said while pouring condolences on behalf of Kwekwe town.