National Team opens door for Nyatsanza
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The Zimbabwe National Sevens Rugby Team has opened doors for Innocent Tendai Nyatsanza (24), who has been part of the ensemble since last year.
Nyatsanza, stationed at Glen Norah Police in Harare is currently part of the camping team preparing for the Sevens Rugby World Cup to be held in San Francisco in the United States of America this July.
For Nyatsanza the dramatic rise has come barely three years after being introduced to the sport while in Depot during his training.
He has gone on to work on his game in a very short space of time to attract the interest of national team coaches something that has given him the urge to work harder.
The Outpost recently spoke to the police rugby talent on the sidelines of the recently ended Commissioner General of Police Sports Gala where he spoke on his journey to stardom.
“I wanted to pursue rugby while at school but our school did not have facilities then and because of my body, many people always encouraged me to take up the sport. I came face to face with the sport when I joined the police in July 2014.
My first week in Depot I met Valentine Nkiwane a renowned police rugby player and asked me if I had played rugby before. I told him I had never played it and he told me that he wanted me to play rugby. From that period he became my coach, mentor and inspiration,” said the former Mandedza High School student.
That was the beginning of his rugby journey which has seen him representing the country.
While in Depot for a year, Nyatsanza played at the Commissioner General’s Sports Gala representing Depot Province and won gold on two occasions. After graduation, he was posted to Harare province and joined the Police Defenders which is in the National Rugby League.
“At Police Defenders, I was introduced to the new concept of rugby, the fifteens rugby after having been introduced to the sevens rugby while in Depot. It took time for me to adjust and spent the better part of the year as a bench warmer.”
But 2017 brought new fortunes for the young man who
is eyeing more than just recognition but glory in the sport.
He finished the league as the fourth best try-scorer in the league and the same year he was lucky to be sent for selections for the Cheetahs alongside other players from the Police Defenders and he got the national team call up but the game was not over again as he had to compete with several other battle hardened players who were also called in camp.
“We were 38 players in camp in including a host of foreign based players from Australia, United States, Canada, South Africa and other nations but I managed to be selected in the final 24 who represented the country in the Victoria Falls Kwese Sevens Rugby Tourney where a number of countries and clubs participated.
Nyatsanza also in the same year, went to Zambia to represent the country.
“The coaches are impressed with my progress and are giving me specifications on where to work on and I am determined to rise to the occasion.”
Owing to his national team participation, local clubs have come seeking for his services. In no time, Harare Sports Club requested for the services of the player who was then turning out for ZRP’s Defenders.
Nyatsanza was given the green light to play for Harare Sports Club in the current season the move which he says has developed his game as he is exposed to professional training with top notch coaches and facilities.
“They know what to do to a player to develop their game. I have learnt a lot which I could not have learnt at Police Defenders. At Police Defenders, we are very fit but we have technical challenges because we cannot hire external coaches yet we have the grounds, talent and the time,” he said.
Playing for Harare Sports Club presents Nyatsanza with a chance to play in the Gold Cup an equivalent of the UEFA Champions League and once playing there, there are chances of being selected at an international stage where big clubs choose players to play for them.
He speaks of rugby in the police.
“Rugby can put police on the map more than any other sport because just being in the league is much exposure to the police. We have had several players from Police Defenders being called for trials in the national team yet you may never hear of a soccer player in the police representing Zimbabwe. The challenge we have as police rugby is that there is little support towards us and sometimes players have to fund their journey to games. We know times are hard but we can do better with a little backup,” says Nyatsanza.
He is thankful to the ZRP command for the support he gets as well as his Officer-In-Charge, Inspector Ballot Gatsi, Sergeant Caleb Bopani a former rugby player for pushing him to do more as well as his mentor Sergeant Nkiwane who was able to groom him.
The sky is the limit for Nyatsanza.