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Sleep thee well George, 8 years after crossing that divide

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The football fraternity is still battling with grief after the death of Be Forward Wanderers chairperson, George Chamangwana, last Friday in Blantyre.

Thousands of football supporters, who gathered at Kamuzu Stadium to bid him farewell, told a powerful story that the man was a football icon.

George was an accomplished football administrator, having played for Wanderers Youth before he was promoted to the senior team where he featured prominently in several campaigns. He was a prominent figure on the left-back position.

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It is that consistency which made Football Association of Malawi (Fam) to give him a chance to feature for the national soccer team. Despite being a hard tackler, George was cool, calm and collected. By all means, playing for Wanderers proved to be life-changing for him.

I watched George play football back in the early 1990s when I was a sports reporter, with a strong bias towards football reporting, for this esteemed media empire, which has evolved from print to electronic platforms in the past three years.

Then it was not easy for the players to have their pictures published in the two highly circulated papers, The Daily Times and its sister paper, Malawi News, but George could have his easily published because of his golden feet that repaid trust that the sea of blue and white supporters had in him.

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After retiring from active football, George joined football politics when he became team manager for Wanderers. Later, he was elected general secretary before he became chairperson in 2012. He has been serving on the position until his death.

He was always objective in his arguments. Even when you met him among the noisy guys gulping gallons of alcohol at the famous Wanderers Club, George could remain quiet and focused in his arguments.

To me, he will remain the man who was a symbol of Wanderers. He believed in sharing whatever little resources he had. I can, therefore, confidently say that sharing was part of his DNA.

Memories are still fresh of how he struggled to finance Wanderers when Malawi Telecommunications Limited pulled out sponsorship.

The same hard-tackler and no-nonsense defender appeared different from what he used to be as a player when he donned this mantle of leadership.

Yes, George is now gone at the age of 48. It is sad that he has died just eight years after crossing that divide that our ancestors told us represents the beginning of life.

If there were some who had disagreements with George, all I can advise is that, before they reach for hate, they should always remember that he was a pillar of Wanderers and no one will rewrite this history.

May George’s soul Rest in Eternal Peace.

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