What you need to know:
- Until his demise, Gitau had officiated in the National League for more than a decade after having featured for now defunct Nairobi City Council as a player.
- He is survived by his wife Rose Wamuhu and three children Karigi, Gladys Nyambura and Julia Nyambura.
National volleyball referee Edward Gitau Mwangi was Friday laid to rest at his rural home in Kirigu village, Kigumo Constituency in Murang’a County.
Watailor, as he was fondly referred to in volleyball circles, passed away on August 4 after succumbing to head injuries following a road accident on July 30 on Bunyala Road in Nairobi.
The 59-year-old referee was on his way home after officiating a Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) National League match between General Service Unit and Kenya Prisons at Nyayo Stadium Indoor Gymnasium.
Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) Deputy President Charles Nyaberi eulogised Gitau as a devoted servant of the game who selflessly played his role as a referee and coach.
“I have known Gitau since he stepped into volleyball and one thing that stood out about him is he was always there wherever volleyball was being played. Even when he met his death he was coming from Nyayo Stadium where he had just officiated a high-profile match in the National League play-offs,” said Nyaberi.
“The volleyball fraternity has lost a passionate referee and coach but he leaves us with great lessons of how far selflessness can take you. We will always celebrate him as our hero,” he added.
KVF Deputy Treasurer Moses Mbuthia said Gitau was a great champion of cohesiveness within the volleyball fraternity.
“He is a leader who brought people together and ensured that people join hands to work towards a common goal. Personally, he connected me with a lot of people and the high attendance here shows how big his influence was not only in volleyball circles but in life generally,” said Mbuthia.
Gitau’s son Elias Karigi features for Equity Bank that finished fifth in the KVF National League last season. Equity Bank Team Manager Nicholas Bitok remembered Gitau for upholding integrity as a referee.
“Whenever Gitau officiated matches involving Equity Bank, the natural expectation was he would favour us because his son was in our team. But that was not the case since he upheld fairness even in 50-50 situations. He believed in integrity and that’s what made him stand out as a referee,” said Bitok.
When away from the whistle, Gitau tried his hand in coaching. His last station was at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) where he coached both the men’s and ladies team.
He is credited with discovering Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and national team opposite attacker Peter Kamara. JKUAT Games Officer Maruti Chemukuti said Gitau had an eye for talent and was a patient coach.
“When he joined JKUAT, we did not have a good volleyball team but he transformed it to a team that consistently qualified for the KUSA Nationals. He could spot talent from far and had the patience to nurture young players. He was an asset to JKUAT and we will forever be grateful for his services for almost 10 years,” said Maruti.
Until his demise, Gitau had officiated in the National League for more than a decade after having featured for now defunct Nairobi City Council as a player.
He is survived by his wife Rose Wamuhu and three children Karigi, Gladys Nyambura and Julia Nyambura.