HUNDREDS thronged Amphitheatre and Lady Stanley cemetery here to pay their last respects to the late football legend Barry Daka.
Daka died aged 71 at his Barbourfields home last Thursday morning after a short illness. Many people, including football administrators, legends and those from other sporting disciplines gathered for a big send-off for the fallen football hero. Speaker after speaker spoke highly of Daka, who achieved a lot as a player and as a coach.
Notable people in attendance were former minister Tshinga Dube, Bulawayo mayor Solomon Mguni, Premier Soccer League chief executive Kenny Ndebele and former Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) vice president Vincent Pamire.
Former Warriors and Highlanders coach Madinda Ndlovu, who is recovering from a mild stroke last year, also took time to attend the funeral.
Other football legends in attendance were Douglas Mloyi, Lawrence Phiri and Cosmas Zulu, among others.
Daka’s son, Mayfield said during his address to mourners that the family had lost the pillar of their strength.
“My father made sure we got better education and all my three young sisters have degrees because of my father. He taught us a lot and he was passionate about football,” he said.
Zulu, who is now the Ngezi Platinum Stars goalkeepers’ coach, took the opportunity to take a swipe at football administrators for their contempt of football legends.
“Legends like (Barry) Daka need to be respected in every aspect. They are even denied free entry to watch Highlanders when it’s a team they so much worked for to be what it is today. They have to beg to gain entry from someone who has done nothing for the club. People speak highly of people when they are dead and they want to honour them but when they are alive they don’t care about them, is that fair?” asked the emotional Zulu.
Veteran football administrator Ndumiso Gumede, who is now the Highlanders board chairperson, spoke glowingly of Daka.
“He was outstanding as a player and outstanding as a coach. He was a mentor, role model and indeed an influential character. He was a humble sportsperson who had respect and showed professionalism in dealing with issues.
“He was a good listener and a good teacher. He was inspirational and a good planner. We lost a guru who understood football to the core and had football as his life.
“His passion for football was immeasurable,” Gumede said.
Ndebele, who also worked with Daka during their days at Highlanders, also spoke highly of the former coach.
“This man is a hero in terms of football. His contribution to its development was exceptional. He groomed a lot of players who are now legends and some are now renowned coaches.
“His passion for youth development changed football. We have lost an advisor, motivator, leader and father,” Ndebele said.
Daka was credited with nurturing talented greats such as Madinda Ndlovu, Rahman Gumbo, Ernest Maphepha Sibanda, Zenzo Moyo, the late Mercedes Rambo Sibanda and the late Willard Mashinkila-Khumalo among the many players that did well locally and internationally.
Daka, who won numerous accolades as a player and coach, is survived by his wife and four children.