FORMER – Zimbabwe rugby international James Nyatanga has launched a new academy aimed to ploughing back into a sport which give him fame, well, and a bit of fortune.
34-year-old Nyatnga, who earned more than 10 caps for the Sables as a scrumhalf, went on to play league rugby in New Zealand for more than a decade.
New Zealander Moira Youngquest is helping out at the academy, named James Lee Academy, by facilitating scholarship placement for young Zimbabwean players at New Zealand clubs.
“She is the one who is helping me do this,” Nyatanga tells the Daily News on Sunday. “It’s about time we give back. So much talent is going unnoticed.”
“There is a catch to it. We sign contracts with the kids with an undertaking that they should come back and play for the national team when called up.”
The academy, based at Old Hararians, a club Nyatanga turned out for during dominant years in the early 2000a.
“The academy has been running for two years. It had stopped for a while, now it has 45 kids.”
Nyatanga sas the academy has drawn players from different schools across the capital.
Brian Dube of Milton Boys High in Bulawayo and Churchill’s Itai Nyakambaza are set to leave for New Zealand in January on attachment at clubs there.
Former Churchill and Zimbabwe Under-20 back Mkhululi Ndlela is also involved with the academy.
He says: “It’s been an experience, it gives you a wide choice of what you can expect from rugby. Having been involved in SA, you realise that rugby in Zim is different in SA. It’s a good experience.
“It’s been good working with the kids. They also look up to me since I played at the national level. They look up to you, so you fight even harder to become a perfect example.”
Some of the backroom staff the academy include Sables assistant coach Cyprian Mandenge alongside such officials as Freddy Penias, Ashley Mabhena and Tendai Gara.