The Football fraternity on Saturday came together to escort the remains of former Flames team manager and Be Forward Wanderers coach, Stuart Mbolembole to their final rest Zomba.
Mbolembole breathed his last after a 50-year journey on earth on Thursday at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre.
On Friday, his body was taken from College of Medicine Mortuary to his home at Machinjiri before proceeding to Zomba on Saturday.
Minister of Youth and Sports, Ulemu Msungama and Football Association of Malawi president, Walter Nyamilandu led coaches, players, fans and other sympathisers to pay their last respects to the National Coaches Association chairperson.
Nyamilandu-Manda paid his last respect and said: "Fare thee well Stuart. You were one of a kind. Its hard to believe that you are no longer with us. Its hard to accept that you are gone forever. We take comfort that the Lord loved you most. Forever in our hearts ❤. Rest In peace ✌"
Former Wanderers general secretary David Kanyenda posted on his Facebook page a long eulogy for Mbolembole which includes a narration of his career journey with the team as follows:
"Am speechless. Stewart Mbolembole was a fine servant for Nomads and the game alike. He won many titles both as player and coach.
Injury curtailed an otherwise promising playing career on that fateful afternoon at BAT ground in the mid 90s. Pierson "Piyo" Mphonde of Hardware/Uniprint Stars lunged at Stewart culminating in an open fracture. Thereafter, Stewart never played again & missed out on a deserved starting berth in the Flames backline.
As a coach, Stewart was tactically astute and a good reader of the game. He was Assistant coach to Zimbabwean import Rahman Gumbo when Nomads won the inaugural TNM Super League trophy in 2006. After the Flames hiatus, we re-hired him and he was at the helm when Nomads won their last Standard Bank Cup in 2013 beating Silver 1 nil.
Stewart obtained several coaching badges rising to become a certified CAF Coaches instructor and President of the Coaches Association of Malawi. Unlike many past footballers, Stewart completed his formal education and secured a steady job at Malawi Posts Corporation.
As a team manager, he was quite the disciplinarian. Indeed Stewart was a member of the technical panel as Team Manager during the Flames epic qualification for Afcon 2010 held in Angola. When he left the Flames fold in 2012, we tapped him for the role of Team Manager to curb the rampant incidence of ill discipline.
As fate would have it, we failed to agree personal terms with the person earmarked for the post of Coach & we roped in Stewart instead who won us silverware right away. And true to his nature and disciplinarian instincts, he wasted no effort to sack some high profile players who threatened his football project.
We sat with Stewart long hours at Wanderers Club alongside Jack Chamangwana, Albert Mpinganjira and Chiyembekezo Zidana in the technical commitee reviewing game plans and all. Always thoughtful and methodical in his game approach as well as gracious even in defeat. Wanderers played some of its best football under his watch outwitting more fancied opponents with a squad operating on a shoestring budget. He turned out to be a motivator for the lads in difficult economic times. Words fail me. Rest well master tactician Stewart Mbolembole."
Mbolembole was in January this year part of the team that worked on the formulation of the CAF B course manual.