Thousands of sports lovers, especially in soccer, turned up yesterday at the TCC Club Chang’ombe in Temeke to pay last respects to Simba midfielder Patrick Mafisango, 32, who died in a road accident on Thursday night.
People from all walks of life including various government officials who were led by the Minister for Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, Dr Fennela Mukangara paid their last respects.
Other prominent figures present included the director of sports in the ministry, Leonard Thadeo, national soccer coach Kim Poulsen and Taifa Stars players, National Sports Council (NSC) official Mohamed Kiganja and officials of the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF).
It was a sorrowful moment as most soccer fans, Simba players and their city rivals Yanga shed tears when they saw the body of the deceased lying in the coffin.
Those who were given chance to speak praised Mafisango, saying that he was a talented and disciplined player whom young need to emulate.
Yanga secretary General Celestine Mwesige described the death of Mafisango as a big blow to the country’s football fraternity, noting that the late midfielder was a player who valued professionalism.
In his remarks, Simba SC chairman Ismail Aden Rage said his club had lost a hardworking and dedicated player who had vision. The midfielder was loved by all players including those from rivals clubs such as Yanga, he specified.
Rage assured Simba supporters and other football lovers that his club will support the family of the late Mafisango in whatever way possible.
He said Mafisango’s contribution to the club achievements will be remembered for a long time.
“Road carnage has robbed our team one of our best players, a player whom we valued greatly and who did everything possible to see the side achieving top honours,” he added.
In her remarks, the minister Dr Mukangara admitted it was the first time for her to be at funeral ceremonies of a football player where everyone felt bereaved.
She said the government was saddened with the death of the player who contributed to the club’s recent success.
The body of the deceased will be flown to Kinshasa for burial today.
He was one of the players who helped Simba win the Mainland Premier League.
His death came a few days after playing Al Ahly Shandy of Sudan in a return leg tie of the Confederation Cup.
Meanwhile, President Jakaya Kikwete yesterday sent a condolence message to club chairman Ismail Aden Rage and the family of the late Mafisango along with soccer lovers in the country, expressing his profound shock at the tragic accident.