By Staff Reporter
Ben Bamfuchile, who heroically masterminded minnows Brave Warriors’ qualification to the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations set for Ghana was put to rest during a burial that attracted 5 000 people in Zambia.
At the burial that took place in Kitwe, the Namibia Football Association, that had formed a brotherly working relationship with the late Zambian soccer stalwart, was represented by Barry Rukoro the Acting Secretary General of the NFA who was among the key speakers at the well-attended funeral.
NFA that was roundly applauded for delegating Rukoro who addressed mourners alongside notable soccer luminaries such as the legendary Kalusha Bwalya and several others, forked out N$14 000 for Bumfuchile’s casket.
Though Rukoro was not available to shed more light on the mission heartbreak to Zambia, NFA President John Muinjo said: “All I can say about the gentleman is he is gone but his legacy will forever live with us. We had a very court-type relationship that reminded me of a very traditional background of Ubuntu. That is the type of relationship we had between me and him.
“The most appropriate way we can honour the lives and struggles of our fallen heroes is to pick up from where they left off. May his soul rest in perfect peace. That is all I can say about this gentleman,” said Muinjo.
Currently the NFA has brought in Arie Schans as a caretaker coach from Holland where soccer hero Bamfuchile also honed his coaching skills.
The NFA chief said the reason for this is to ensure continuity and cohesion.
Bamfuchile passed away in Zambia two days after Christmas and at the time of his passing Barry Rukoro the Acting Secretary General of the NFA said the organization “learned with great shock and a sense of deep sadness about the untimely passing away of ‘Big Ben’ the Brave Warriors coach.
“Over the past eighteen months that Ben lived in Namibia, we began to understand the depth of knowledge that he possessed about the game that he selflessly passed onto the young team he built for Namibia,” Rukoro stated then.
In the same message he said, “We were truly impressed with Ben’s commitment to the success of the team. We witnessed firsthand Ben’s passion for sharing his vast pool of African football experience as he inculcated the desire and hunger for qualification to the Africa Cup of Nations and need to make that habit in the youthful Brave Warriors team.”
Namibia will remember Ben as the great coach who came to this country and turned around the dreams of all football coaches to ever have coached this country, said Rukoro, who had added: “We will remember him as one of the best when it comes to talent identification.”
In his message of condolences John Mutorwa the Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture urged the Brave Warriors to truly honour the late Bamfuchile’s immense and immeasurable contributions to local football.
Bamfuchile, 47, died in Kitwe shortly after Christmas after a long illness at Poly Clinic in Nkana West Township, where he had been admitted for over a fortnight, according to media reports from Zambia.
Bamfuchile was one of Zambia’s highly respected coaches having coached Zambia, Namibia, Power Dynamos and Nkana FC.
The late Bamfuchile started his football career as a player at 11-time league champions Nkana in 1977 and was assistant-coach and player from the late 1980s to 1993 when he took over fulltime at the time.
Later in his career, Bamfuchile oversaw the development of midfielder Isaac Chansa, former Under-23 defender Steven Kunda and striker and Francis Kombe at Power Dynamos.
While Bamfuchile did not win the league with Power, he brought the team two Mosi cup titles in 2001 and 2003 and the Arthur Davies club was runners up in the same tournament in 2002.
Bamfuchile also won the BP Top 8 crown in 2001 including the clubs only ever Coca Cola Cup triumph in 2003.
His other coaching adventures after an initial turbulent two seasons at Nkana starting from 1993 when he took over from the late legendary trainer Moses Simwala saw him take up coaching stints in Swaziland and South Africa.
Bamfuchile was also assistant Zambia coach to the late Ian Porterfield at the 1994 Africa Cup finals in Tunisia where the team won silver after losing 2-1 to Nigeria in the finals.
He also won the Swaziland league and cup titles with 11-Men-in-Flight in 1996 and after a couple of seasons a period he described as unforgettable.
Bamfuchile then briefly spent six months with South Africa top-flight club Amazulu before returning home for his first of two spells at Power. He also guided the Zambia Under-23 men’s team to a silver medal at the All-Africa Games in Greater Johannesburg in 1999.
Then the Zambia job became available in the run-up to the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations after the departure of German-born coach Bukhard Ziese.
With Zambia, Bamfuchile oversaw one of the squad’s most successfully qualifying runs ever. Zambia were undefeated in all their six Group Six qualifying games under Bamfuchile before it all came unstuck at the Nigeria/Ghana Africa Cup 2000.