The government last night pledged to buy the casket for legendary netball coach Griffin Saenda, who passed on at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre yesterday morning.
According to spokesperson for Saenda’s family Dietrich Frederich, the offer was made at night after speaking with Sports Minister Ulemu Msunguma.
“The government is buying a casket and will also meet the expenses for the funeral service. Everything will be finalised Friday (today). The minister (Msungama) phoned us and promised those things,” he said.
Msunguma confirmed the development in a separate interview, but was quick to say more details would be released later.
Saenda is highly respected in netball circles both locally and internationally following his achievements in competitions.
“We were waiting for the funeral programme first before outlining our plans. But we, as the government, are deeply shocked with Saenda’s death. We appreciate the role he played in uplifting netball standards in the country,” Mbvundula said.
Spokesperson for the bereaved family, Dietrich Frederich, said late Saenda would be buried tomorrow at HHI Cemetery in Blantyre.
Saenda was rushed to the hospital on Thursday last week after collapsing at his Chimwankhunda Township house in Blantyre.
Regarded as one of the best coaches on the continent, Saenda was a mark of success wherever he worked as coach.
Saenda, who also mentored giants Kukoma Diamonds, died aged 68 having coached top local clubs including First Choice Tigresses, formerly Admarc Tigresses.
He led the Queens to position five in the world and won bronze at the 2016 Fast Five Netball Series, behind eventual champions New Zealand and second-placed Australia.
Saenda won every trophy on the domestic scene including the disbanded Stanbic Bank, Toyota Malawi, Airtel Money, GOtv Netball Championship, Presidential Cup and Rainbow Paints Blantyre and Districts Netball League.
Meanwhile, scores of former and current players have paid tribute to the departed tactician.
The players include Australia-based attacker Mwawi Kumwenda, defender Towera Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda, former Queens captain Emmie Waya-Chongwe and Netball Association of Malawi officials.
Saenda was also Malawi National Council of Sports’ Development Officer for the South before his retirement last year.
He is survived by 12 children and came from Majanga Village, Traditional Authority Mwambo in Zomba District.
Sports Council acting Executive Secretary Henry Mereka also paid tribute to Saenda.
“Sports Council will remember Mr Saenda for his enormous contribution to sport development, netball in particular. He was a man of different traits—a clinician, physical trainer, coach and tutor,” Mereka said.
Sports analyst George Kaudza-Masina said it was hard for the government to find ways of honouring Saenda as there are no written guidelines.
“These issues are not gazetted anywhere. Saenda was an employee of Sports Council prior to his retirement and the government can only come in at its own prerogative. This is where the sports fund being advocated by the Minister of Sports comes in. But all things being equal, the government and other stakeholders need to came in and give Saenda the respect he deserves in sports, netball in particular.
“Nam should be in the forefront lobbying for government intervention. Unfortunately, this is not the right time to accord all sorts of honour to Saenda. This support should have come at the time of his illness. We tend to have developed a culture of honouring people when they are gone. Mindset change is needed in this aspect,” Kaudza-Masina said.