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SPORTS

Why Zimbabwean-born Kabras coach Nyathi loves Kenya

RUGBY By Washington Onyango | April 8th 2021
Kabras head coach Mzinganye Nyathi. [Washington Onyango,Standard]

Kabras Sugar head coach Mzingaye Nyathi grew in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, a City that embraces not only rugby as a sport but also cricket, football, netball and basketball with much fervour.

Born in Insinza District in Zimbabwe in 1974, Nyathi was raised in Bulawayo City around his sisters.

His mother is a renowned netball player and coach back in Zimbabwe, and through her, she learnt of rugby at the age of 10 years.

He started playing rugby in 1988 while in high school as a captain. He joined Old Miltonians RFC in Bulawayo when he left school before joining Old Hararians where he played for most of his years.

After retiring, Nyathi decided to try his hand in coaching in 2006 and but prior to that, he has 14 caps with the national rugby team, Zimbabwe Sables.

After years of coaching, Nyathi moved to South Africa where he was recently the head of sports at the Cape Town private school; Camps Bay High School until last year when he decided to gamble by taking an opportunity of becoming a head coach in Kenya.

The former Zimbabwe star also served as head coach of the Western Province Academy team at the U18 Academy Week held at Grey College in Bloemfontein, South Africa last year.

Nyathi took charge at Kabras Sugar in October last year at the height of Covid-19 pandemic, replacing South African Henley du Plessis.

He has hit the ground running in Kenya after successfully leading Kabras to the top of the Kenya Cup standings with 15 points ahead of defending champions KCB before the government suspended all sporting activities in the country again last month due to covid-19.

In this interview with The Standard Sport, the 46-year-old Sisimuka Cup champion reveals what he loves about Kenya and why he is eager to win the Kenya Cup with Kabras Sugar:

1. How did you learn about Kenya?

I toured with the Zimbabwe Sables in 1998 and 2003 in Nairobi where we played at the RFUEA grounds.

2. How did you land this coaching job with Kenya?

By staying connected and building good relationships in and out of rugby in Africa.

3. What was your biggest challenge and fears after relocating to Kenya?

Fears? I think more excitement about new venture than fear. The challenges are managing family concerns from a distance and adapting to different management approaches.

4. What’s the biggest misconception people have about rugby?

Both within rugby and outside, people think that it has to be brutal or violent for some reason.

5. How best can you describe your club Kabras Sugar?

Visionary! It is an absolutely amazing set-up and what a fantastic sponsorship package the club has with West Kenya Sugar and the Kabras brand. It is a blue print that can, maybe, should be replicated elsewhere

6. How do you rate the Kenya Cup?

It is a very good competition that can stand to be counted among the top competitions in Africa.

7. Kabras has lost the last three Kenya Cup finals in a row. Do you think you can end their 5-year drought and curse against KCB?

Quite disappointing when looking at what it has - players and facilities. I cannot guarantee results on the score board, but can manage processes and players to achieve the best that they can minute by minute and game by game.

8. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Continue to contribute to player development at the stage of rugby that they are at and improving performance through systems management.

9. If not rugby, what else would you be doing?

Real Estate. I am a real estate valuer and work privately on family concerns  

10. Who was your role model?

Keith Woods (IRE), Sean Fltzpatrick (NZ) and interestingly John Barnes and Bruce Grobbler (Liverpool).

Mr Nyathi. [Washington Onyango, Standard]

11. If you were to get stuck in a lift, who would you like to be with in there?

My Wife. I’d listen to her stories for hours.

12. What is your favorite meal?

Most Kenyan meals are similar to what we have in Zimbabwe. Nevertheless, Chapati, Meat and Spinach

14. What's the one thing you can't leave the house without?

Loose change-a cookie and coke when out and about

15. What do you like doing on your off days?

Being on the road. Adventure and learning about new places

16. According to you, who is the greatest Kenyan athlete you know?

Let me not lie

17. What do you love about Kenya?

The countryside-The landscapes are beautiful. I would love to see more and the famous game parks

18. What do you love about Kakamega?

It’s simplicity

19. What changes could you make if you were at the top management of rugby in Kenya so as to improve the sport nationally and internationally?

That’s a biggie. Two things; First, an investment into playing fields which will impact the game significantly. Maintenance is rather low for this era of rugby and the desired progress of the game in the country.

Last, despite not knowing the national discourse, I would through everything financial and intellectual to get Kenya to the Rugby World Cup.

20. Any future plans?

I am always planning, but I keep my thoughts in my head.

21. Are you married? If yes, how many kids?

Yes. I have a beautiful wife and young kids

22. Message to the fans during this pandemic and lockdown.

I would urge them to join me in praying for healing during this tricky pandemic time and also hope for the better future especially in rugby where we expect fans back in the stands.

23. What do you do to keep you busy during this lockdown and no sport?

My mind is off rugby-this is a time for prayer, reflection and watching movies. But, an elongated lockdown will have me analyzing what we have done as Kabras and start planning ahead.

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