HOOPS! with MWEMBE KAONA
KNOWN amongst his peers and the basketball family as â€˜Papaâ€™, Alinafe Mwale breathed his last breath last week and was laid to rest yesterday (Monday) at Leopards Hill Memorial Park cemetery in Lusaka where family friends and associates turned out in large numbers to bid farewell to a dedicated servant of the sport.
His loss has impacted many with grief and sorrow with the realisation that one of Zambian basketballs most passionate activists is no more.
Senior men national team coach Cuthbert Tembo posted on social media â€œMany of us boast about how we sacrifice for the game of basketball. Not this soul who has left us!! A true servant of the game, an example of the great and rare gift of humility, a man with the kind of principles that many a modern player, coach or official will never match.
Respectful but not afraid to criticise. Our Thursday night arch-enemy and weekend friend. A great loss to basketball as a whole. From all of us at UNZA basketball, we shall miss you dearly Alinafe Papa Mwale. rest in peace.â€
Temboâ€™s assistant Liz Mills described his passing as a gigantic loss to his family and the basketball community.
She said: â€œHis knowledge, his experience and his devotion to the youth development of the sport will never be filled by just one person. He worked to the capacity of five people.â€
Many have been left in a deep state of sadness but in honour of his memory, his club NAPSA Hurricanes delivered an emotional tribute in befitting manner when they went ahead to play their weekend fixture against Munali Suns at the National Sports Development Centre.
Hurricanes won 55 -45
Born 34 years ago, Mwale attended secondary school at Kabulonga Boys in Lusaka and started his basketball career in the late 90â€™s at Munali where Olympic Youth Development Centre director Clement Chileshe spotted him and recruited him for his team, Ulimbe Raptors where he played along with Zambiaâ€™s export to the United States of America Arthur Zulu.
In 2000, he had a brief stint with the Zambia National Service Green Eagles then crossed over to Hurricanes where he became a part of the teams golden era winning the clubs maiden basketball league championship in 25 years in 2005 and represented the country at the Zone Six Club championships in 2007 and 2010.
Mwale had a strong passion for youth basketball and was a founder member of the earth row Bull Dogs Basketball academy based in Northmead which formed a team that has since developed into a formidable basketball side in the Midlands Basketball Association league.
In 2011, he represented Zambia at the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Children of the world basketball camp in Turkey.
Last year, he attended a training course organised by the Zambia Basketball Federation to become one of the highest qualified coaches when he obtained the FIBA Young coach module two certificate.
Along with Mwape Konsolo, he was a member of the Youth Basketball League of Lusaka, helping the sport grow to greater heights.
Mwale will indeed be missed by his family and the larger family of the basketball community where he passionately belonged.
HOOPS! with MWEMBE KAONA