GOVERNMENT has described former national team coach Brightwell Banda as a sheer patriot who selflessly served the nation and was part of the cohort that laid the foundation of Zambian football.

Several people that included Acting Secretary to Cabinet Patrick Kangwa, Zambia Army Commander Sitali Alibuzwi and Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) president Andrew Kamanga yesterday led hundreds of mourners in paying their last respects to Banda at Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

Banda, 75, died on Friday last week and was buried at Leopards Hill Memorial Park today.

Kangwa who is also Zambia Football Coaches Association (ZaFCA) general secretary said Banda will be remembered as an intelligent strategist who did not look at financial returns but was driven by passion.

“Today is a sad day for Zambian football lovers as we put to rest former national team coach Brightwell Banda. He has left a mark that all Zambians must reflect on and to us all, we will remember him as sheer patriot who selflessly served the nation and was part of the cohort that laid the foundation of Zambian football,” Kangwa said.

Banda became the first indigenous coach after taking over from Ante Buselic, of the then Yugoslavia, in 1976.

He was part of the bronze medal winning team at the 1982 Libya Africa Cup of Nations and two years later when Zambia won a maiden CECAFA Challenge Cup.

The victory got him promotion to full Colonel from Lieutenant Colonel in the Zambia Army.

Until his death, Banda was a life member of Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) and was also part of the FAZ technical committee.

And Kamanga said Banda provided a perfect bridge between the past and the present and his role as a pioneer of indigenous coaches taking up the national team role set a high bar.

Kamanga said Banda played different roles in the development of football and remained loyal until his death.

“At FAZ, we incorporated him in the technical committee where his services were invaluable. In football, we choose to celebrate him and not mourn his loss. We celebrate the moments he mentored several players and administrators in his life,” he said.

Kamanga said the great contribution Banda made to the development of football remains a challenge for local coaches to take up the mantle of captaining the various national teams.

“We have taken a leaf from government of prioritizing indigenous skills and only outsource where there is a deficit. Colonel Banda proved the worth of local coaches and now the onus is on you the current crop to complete the journey,” said Kamanga.