Dozens pay last respects to Morrison Sifelani
DOZENS of Zimbabweans, drawn from all the country’s corners, thronged Ntabazinduna yesterday for the burial of Morrison Longstaff Sifelani. He died last week at the age of 75 after a colourful career as a soccer player, coach, administrator, businessman and executive. One had to be at the funeral to believe what impact he made to the country in so many ways.
Speaker after speaker hailed Sifelani as a man who came up with solutions whenever there was conflict. A church service was conducted at the family homestead by ministers from the Presybeterian Church of Southern Africa. Zifa vice-president Ndumiso Gumede told mourners that he met Sifelani in 1969 in Harare where they were neighbours and struck a friendship at the first instance.
He said he grew up to know Sifelani as a fearless football administrator who always emphasised the need for professionalism in the running of football. “He was a brave man who spoke his mind out even during the days of the colonial era. He talked about professionalism and some of us were to later realise what he meant years later. When there was conflict, he would listen, but once given a chance he would deliver solutions,” said Gumede.
Gumede said people like Sifelani deserved to be made honorary members of Zifa. He said at the moment there were 12 such members and that many of them had not done as much as the former Dynamos, Black Aces and Hippo Valley coach. Benard Marriot, who was among the players when Dynamos was founded in 1962, said Sifelani had left a legacy at the club.
Marriot chronicled how Sifelani, who continued with his studies while working and playing football, rose to become Dynamos manager and chairman in an administration that had the likes of John Madzima, Zifa’s first chairman at independence. He said Sifelani had worked hard for the game and Dynamos. Marriot said Sifelani had always been an integral part of Dynamos whose influence had seen the club live on to the president day.
He said Sifelani dreamt of a legacy, a Dynamos that would conquer Africa and assert itself as an institution of repute with time. Marriot paid tribute to Darlington, the son of his former teammate Obadiah Sarupinda, who attended the funeral. “Sifelani and Obadiah were close friends, we were quite close for sure, it is touching to see one of our sons here to say farewell to his father’s friend,” said Marriot.
Former Zifa vice-chairman Vincent Pamire said in soccer circles Sifelani was known as Murindagomo as he had a knack of bouncing back when people thought he was down and out. Pamire took a swipe at the soccer leadership for not recognising people like Sifelani. “I expected the football family, especially Dynamos, to be here in numbers to bid farewell to a brother who worked hard for the game and the club.
“Even Dynamos executive members and local supporters were conspicuous by their absence, what is happening to our football? We seem not to recognise the impact of our yesteryear heroes,” said Pamire.
Sifelani was born in 1935 in Ntabazinduna and attended David Livingstone before proceeding to Dadaya Mission. He did his matric at Thekwane High School and later attained a degree from Fort Hare University, a diploma in journalism from Thompson Newspapers in Cardiff, Wales. He worked as public relations officer for the Natural Resources Board and received a Conservation Award in 1980.
He worked for both Lonrho and Anglo American Corporation. He is a former Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president. He was among the early recipients of the English Football Association coaching badge. Sifelani left behind 11 children.