Malawi Queens legendary Coach Griffin Zagallo Sayenda was on Saturday laid to rest at HHI cemetery, where tens of thousands of people were in attendance after emotional scenes at the Blantyre Youth Centre.
Huge crowds earlier on turned out to pay their respects at Blantyre Youth Centre, with many weeping, blowing kisses and praying as they filed past his coffin.
His death caused grief across the country but was fiercely felt in Blantyre, a city that saw him grow from an ordinary netball trainer to a national hero.
Sayenda’s casket coffin – draped in Malawi’s national flag and, bearing a netball logo was on public display at the Blantyre Youth Centre on Saturday, hours before burial.
Minister of Sports Ulemu Msungama led netball administrators and players in bidding farewell to Zagallo before declaring that the soon to be constructed Netball Indoor Court at the Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe will be named after Sayenda.
He said: “I would like to announce that once completed, the indoor court shall be named “Griffin Sayenda Indoor Court” in honour the fallen legend.
Sayenda did a lot for the nation and it is only proper that we honour his contributions to the uplifting of netball standards in the country by naming the indoor court after him.”
Griffin Sayenda’s sister and former Diamond Sisters Chairperson Mary Makunganya said she was extremely happy with the befitting sendoff netball fans and government accorded him.
She said: “I’m happy that my brother griffin that I worked with closely has been honoured in this way.
And the decision to name the national indoor court after Griffin is such a remarkable honour not only to our family but the entire netball fraternity in general.”
Marry Waya, a Queens living legend said the country’s netball fraternity was celebrating the life of a phenomenal Queens’s coach of all time Griffin Sayenda because of his life changing attributes to players and administrators as a whole.
“I played under Griffin Sayenda and we broke world and continental records with him.
“I’m what I’m today because of Griffin who did not only help me become a better player but went further to groom me into a good netball coach.”
For this, I personally celebrate his exemplary life that touched lives of many,” she said.
These skills later turned into a unique and entertaining style of play for the Malawi Queens’s nicknamed orthodox and became one of the greatest talking points on the globe.
And as the ex-Queen’s stars displayed their skills on the iconic BYC Netball court, tears, cheers and whistling filled the court.
Thereafter, the Minister of Sports Ulemu Msungama presented a special medal to the bereaved family before Mary Waya led some retired netballer players such as Jean Matola in showcasing netball skills Zagallo imparted in them.
After this ceremony, netball administrators and players assumed the role of the poll bearers and removed the casket from the court to a standby hearse, parked inside the BYC football ground.
Under police escort, Sayenda walked his last mile to HHI cemetery in Blantyre where he finally rested.
Throughout his illustrious journey as a celebrated Malawi Queens and Diamond Sisters head coach, Blantyre Youth Centre became Sayenda synonymous with his name because he was a darling and an idol all that crossed paths with him off and off the court.
Sayenda who until his death was the Malawi Queens Technical Director and Diamond Sisters head coach died in the wee hours of Thursday, 26 November 2020 at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital where he had been admitted last Thursday after suffering from stroke.
‘Zagallo” as was fondly called by his admirers is regarded as one of the country’s most successful netball coaches for both club and National Netball team, since joining the sport in 1991.
During his career as Malawi Queens coach, Sayenda led the Malawi Queens to the 2012 African Netball Championship victory in Dar salaam, Tanzania, helped the Queens move to the fifth position in World and for the first time Malawi Queens finished third at the 2016 Fast 5 test series in England.
While serving as Kukoma Diamonds head Coach, Griffin Sayenda scooped all major national and regional silverware and titles on the domestic scene including Rainbow Paints, OG Issa, Toyota Cup, Standard Bank Cup, Airtel Money Cup, Presidential Cup and Kombeza Cup so with the latest being the 2019 Rainbow paints league title.
The one time Civo FC player, Sayenda nicknamed himself “Zagallo” due to his total admiration of Mário Jorge Lobo Zagallo, a Brazilian former football player and manager who was the first footballer to win the FIFA World Cup both as a manager and as a player.