Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
TWALUMBA Football Club owner Nkululeko Sibanda has died.
Nukuleko, who was husband to Zimbabwe Women’s Football League chairperson Miriam Sibanda, died at Parirenyatwa Hospital on Saturday night.
He was 42.
A family friend and spokesperson, Adora Makoni, said yesterday that Sibanda had been suffering from stomach pains for quite some time and passed on at Parirenyatwa where he had been rushed after his condition had deteriorated.
Makoni said Sibanda had died “before the doctors could establish what was causing the stomach pains’’.
“He was for a couple of months not feeling well and then on Saturday he was taken to hospital that is the day he passed on around 10pm. The doctors were still working on it but he had stomach problems so they were still trying to find out what it was but they had not yet found out what it was.
“I have known him since high school, he was a very loving man, very caring, intelligent, he loved sport. He had a passion for people, very big heart.
“It is really sad that we lost him. He was a pillar, we could always count on him. He was a mentor, he was a father, he loved his children and he loved his wife, friends and family, those were core, those were very important to him and apart from that he cared for the less fortunate people. He really cared for those less fortunate having grown up without much he knew what it was not to have. So he really loved to give, he loved to empower those less privileged,” said Makoni. Burial arrangements would be announced soon as they were still waiting for his relatives yesterday.
“At the moment we are not sure we are waiting for the family to come from Binga and then we know when it will be,” said Makoni.
Sibanda rose to sporting prominence when he established the Binga Half Marathon in 2010, attracting high-profile athletes for the event held in his rural home.
He had also spoken of plans to build a stadium in Binga.
Sibanda also ventured into football with his then Division One franchise Highfield United hogging the limelight when they lured such top players like goalkeeper Washington Arubi, legendary ex-Warriors skipper Peter Ndlovu, Murape Murape and Benjamin Marere.
They later changed their name to Twalumba and were until the end of last year a member of the Northern region Division One.
Twalumba coach Wilson Mutekede, who joined family and friends at Sibanda’s residence yesterday, said they had received the news of their club president’s death with a heavy heart.
“It’s devastating, we date back from far, as far as 1994. We were together and we were very close colleagues. So it’s not easy I really feel robbed of someone dear to me. Not only as a boss at work but we were very close colleagues.
“It was probably the best (working relationship) I experienced as a football coach. For the first time I felt like I could execute what I had learned and I was able to express my philosophy in coaching under him.
“A very cheerful, loving and kind figure, I think everybody can testify. He was never a person you could see in any mood probably not jovial, he was this happy person all the time,” said Mutekede, who is also a family friend.
ZIFA president Cuthbert Dube conveyed his assocaition’s condolences to Miriam Sibanda, who is also a member of his board.
Dube told the ZIFA website www.zifa.org, that Sibanda’s death was loss not only to Miriam and family but also the football fraternity.
“We extend our sincere condolences to our colleague, Miriam Sibanda and her family for the loss of Nkululeko Sibanda, a father, brother and friend of many.
“Her loss is our loss collectively as a football family and we encourage her in this moment of grief to seek solace and guidance from the Lord.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Sibanda family. May the soul of the departed rest in eternal peace,” Dube said.
Zifa Northern Region chairman Willard Manyengavana also said it was a sad loss as the Sibanda family worked tirelessly for football especially in the Northern Region Division One.
“He was a very active member of the Northern Region and his team before it was relegated, it was competitive and brought a strong football ethic and made great strides and his team was a force to reckon with.
“He was very passionate and well sponsored his team which played in our region for years. We feel as a region, we have lost somebody who did a great job. To Mai Sibanda we say we are really sorry. May you find comfort in the lord as only God can comfort her and the entire family during this tough time,” said Manyengavana.
Former Dynamos team manager and secretary-general Nyika Chifamba said the passing on of Sibanda was a blow to the football family.
“He was my friend and I think he is one of the people noticeable in football and it’s very painful but it’s God’s will, there is nothing we can do about it’ Chifamba said.
National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe vice-president Enias Nhoro, who worked closely with Sibanda for the Kujatana-Kubotu Marathon in Binga, also said they have lost a person who was serious about sports development in the country.
“We are very sorry. We have been working with him very well. He did a lot to support the Binga community through marathon. May his soul rest in eternal peace,” said Nhoro.
Sibanda is survived by Miriam and two daughters, Ruramo and Luyando aged 17 and 5 Mourners are gathered at number 12 Woodlane road, Borrowdale.