‘A true legend’: Tributes pour in for former Malawi Queens coach Griffin Saenda

Tributes are pouring in for former coach of Malawi National Netball Team Griffin Saenda who has died at the age of 68.

According to the Malawi National Netball Team Facebook page, Saenda died this morning at Queen Elizabeth central hospital in Blantyre where he was rushed to on Thursday last week after collapsing at his home in Chimwankhunda Township in Blantyre.

Regarded as one of the best coaches on the continent, Saenda won numerous trophies both at club and national team level.

He also coached giants Kukoma Diamonds and First Choice Tigresses, formerly Admarc Tigresses.

“Malawi will always remember the great netball service Mr Saenda rendered to this Nation. We shined under your wings, thanks you Sir,” the Malawi Queens said in a statement.

Malawi’s netball star Mwawi Kumwenda described Saenda as a true legend, saying the coach’s death is a tremendous loss.

“A huge sense of loss that I feel. To know he is no more is definitely a hard hit for the country. A tremendous loss,” she posted on Facebook.

Another Queens netballer Towera Vinkhumbo said Saenda has left a big gap that cannot be replaced.

“With a broken heart. The unchangeable truth of the Death of My coach Mr Griffin Saenda who passed on today 26th November 2020. Mr Saenda has been my coach for more than 15 yrs till his death. He has left a big gap that cannot be replaced. Heaven has gained. Rest In Peace Coach Zagaloo,” she said.

Minister of Sports Ulemu Msungama said Saenda was one of the best Coaches for the Malawi National Netball Team and he made great contributions to the country’s Netball.

He noted that Saenda guided the Malawi Queens to their first ever third finish at the fast 5 World Netball Championship.

He said: “We cannot talk about Netball in Malawi without mentioning late Coach Saenda’s name. The Netball fraternity and indeed the whole country will miss his contributions.”

Sports analyst George Chiusiwa said: “The man who put Malawi on the world map in the sports circles. One can’t talk about the glory and success of the Malawi Queens without mentioning his name. Griffin Saenda Senior was the symbol of the netball game in Malawi. The former Malawi Queens coach was a huge treasure to the game. Rest well Zagalo.”

Another sports analyst Charles Nyirenda said Saenda gave his all to the Malawi Queens and valued the national flag.

“Anyone who has followed the rise of our Queens collection at international level the past 15yrs or so, has to associate the positive performance of the team to no other than Griffin Saenda,” he said.

Nyirenda added that Saenda was far more than a netball coach as he was also a fantastic sports organizer who formulated coaching plans for various sports disciplines including football, basketball, lawn tennis, volleyball and athletics.

“He ploughed the entire Southern Region conducting coaching courses and enhancing both coaching and management capacities of ground troops in the form of sports officers in the districts and frontline operatives in the sports arena. He was a nyc person, dedicated to a cause, focused, approachable, always willing to help if asked to assist and ever ready to function is a situation of limited resources. ZAGALO was an all-rounder indeed. Those of us who interacted with him frequently, know how badly he’ll be missed in the world of sports. We won’t miss him as a former ESCOM sisters and Malawi National netball team coach only but a giant icon in the sports industry. His type come once in a million yrs. May His Soul Rest in Peace,” said Nyirenda.