It was definitely not a joyous day, nor one to cherish for the family of former Zambia U-17 star Changwe Kalale as the young prodigy passed away in Lusaka on his birthday yesterday, Sunday, December 17, 2017.
You may recall that just over three years to the day he eventually passed on, Kalale was involved in a bus crash that left him paralyzed and practically ended his then promising football career.
Kalale’s progress was halted in December 2014 when a bus he was traveling on to join up with the national side crashed. Four people died in the accident, including the bus driver, while Kalale’s fellow players Satchmo Chakawa and Nyambe Mulenga were also involved.
According to the Lusaka Times, the ex-midfielder passed away at the University Teaching Hospital on Sunday morning around 09:00 hours. In a statement credited to his father, Ben Kalale, he revealed that the late footballer will be buried at their home in Chambishi on the Copperbelt.
Also speaking to the Lusaka Times, Andrew Kamanga, the President of the Zambian Football Federation, acknowledged the youngster’s passing.
“It is with a heavy heart that we receive the passing on of a gifted player whose career was cut short through a terrible accident that confined him to a wheelchair,” he said.
“Kalale had been due to take part in his first major tournament – the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea – when the accident happened, picking up a spinal injury that left him with limited movement from the waist down.
Despite being told by doctors that he may never play football again, the then-17-year-old remained positive, and boldly told BBC Sport in a moving interview in 2015 that he was confident he’d return to the sport.
‘I can’t give up on football just because of that accident,’ Kalale told BBC Sport. ‘After the accident, I wasn’t able to move. All I could do is sleep on the bed. But I’ll be back, I know I will play football again. It’s a matter of time,’ he added. ‘It has been a very painful experience for me especially because my career was on the rise. I’m sure I’d have played at the Africa Cup of Nations but the accident ruined all my plans.”