The sickening plight of former and current football players in Malawi has again become a hot topic for discussion as soccer legend Kinnah Phiri believes his former teammate and friend, Jack Chamangwana, deserved better medical care before his death.
Chamangwana, a former national captain, coach and technical director, died on Sunday evening at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Blantyre, after battling high blood pressure.
He was later laid to rest on Tuesday at Misesa Cemetery in the city.
While mourning his departed former national colleague, who at the time of his death was technical director for Be Forward Wanderers, Phiri lamented the type of medical attention accorded to Chamangwana during his illness.
“When I phoned his wife and learnt that Jack was admitted in Ward 3B at QECH, I felt bad because that place is not good enough for a person of such calibre. Jack was not an ordinary man, that’s why the State President and his Vice are involved in his funeral, so he deserved a lot better than this. His hour might have come but we should have done better for him to sleep happily, knowing we cared and did all we could to save his life,” said Kinnah.
The former national team coach added that his concerns extend to all athletes who have immensely contributed to the growth of sports in the country.
“Am not only speaking for footballers but I think it’s high time we started respecting our heroes from all sporting disciplines. My plea goes to Government, Football Association of Malawi (FAM), clubs and all stakeholders to rise above such mediocrity,” he said.
Commenting on the same, Sports Minister Francis Kasaila who attended the funeral ceremony said his ministry has provided for a fund to cater for athletes in times of need.
“The law that established the Malawi National Council of Sports provides for such a fund. Since last September, I have been pushing for this fund to become active and the Council’s Board Chairman has assured me that soon they will tell Malawians how our sports men and women will start benefitting from the fund,” said Kasaila.
In his remarks, FAM First Vice President, James Mwenda said his body is already doing enough to ensure that former and current footballers are well looked after during difficult times.
“We have now established the Football Players Association (FPA), whose major objective is to look after our players during and after their playing days. FPA will take care of its registered members in times of sickness and death just to mention a few,” said Mwenda.
Chamangwana was Malawi’s second most capped player with 133 appearances and none from the bench.
State President Arthur Peter Mutharika visited the family to offer his condolences before burial, accompanied by his Vice Saulos Chilima, who proceeded to attend the funeral and burial ceremonies.