Harare – He rose from humble beginnings in Mbare to become one of the finest rugby players in the land, with some spellbinding performances for the Zimbabwe rugby sevens team before also representing Germany with distinction towards the latter stages of his career.
Ex-Zimbabwe international Manasah Sita might have since hung up his rugby boots, with his focus now on running his successful fitness gym in Heidelberg, Germany, but he retains a very special connection with his roots.
The 36-year-old, who was recently in the country on holiday, made sure to take some time off to check on his old mentor Victor Pekani, the founder and head coach of Mbare Rugby Academy, where his rugby journey began.
“Without this guy, I wouldn’t be where I am today and I’m so grateful and thankful that Victor Pekani took me under his arms back then when I really needed him,” Sita said in an interview with The Standard.
“He showed me how to play rugby, how to be a man. His methods of coaching rugby made me who I am today. So just going back and chatting to the boys and seeing that Mbare Academy is still there and Victor is still drilling these guys the same way he used to do to us is just amazing.”
Sita says he regards Pekani, who now also doubles as head coach of the Marondera-based Wise Owl High School, as one of the top rugby coaches in the country and pleaded for local rugby stakeholders to give him the recognition he deserves.
“Victor Pekani for me is just one of the best coaches in Zimbabwe and it’s a shame that people haven’t acknowledged that but as a country we need these kind of coaches. He is one of my mentors, I’m so glad and happy that he is one of those guys who started the journey and just seeing him and talking to him was one of the best things. Unfortunately, I can only help him in a way but if the Zimbabwe rugby community can actually recognise him as one of the best coaches in the country, I believe so many people will benefit from his skills and methods of coaching and from his passion for rugby,” he said.
Growing up in Waterfalls, Sita considered himself a sprinter before Pekani encouraged him to try rugby. Little did he know that it would be a life-changing experience.
Following a sublime season with the then Mashonaland Country Districts club (now Old Georgians RFC), he scaled heights beyond measure and became the best rugby player in the country in 2008.
The utility back Sita went on to become a key member of the Zimbabwe Sevens rugby side as well as several clubs in Germany, where he also featured for the European nation and won the World Rugby Challenger Series two years ago.
Sita is one of the several former and current household names in Zimbabwean rugby who came through the ranks of Mbare Rugby Academy before going on to enjoy very successful careers.
They include France-based Barthes Under-20 Trophy-winning starlets Tavonga Ablant and Panashe Zuze Pride Nyameni, Stephan Hunduza who captained the Cheetahs and South Africa-based loose forward Njabulo Ncube just to mention a few.
Sita, who has maintained a close connection with several clubs that he featured for in Germany said he will continue to look for ways to support Mbare Rugby Academy and the current generation of young players at the institution.
He however appealed to local corporates and well-wishers to come on board and support the Mbare Rugby Academy project.
“Zimbabwe needs to start looking at these so-called little clubs and help them because that’s where all the talent is coming from. The coaching that they are getting there I’m telling you is of the highest quality but the most amazing thing is they do all this without any of the fancy equipment but still as a player when you come out of the academy you know that you can compete with anyone. I hope the Zimbabwe rugby community in collaboration with the local corporate world can come together and give back to the Mbare Rugby Academy, especially the coaches. It will be one of the best investments they can ever make.
“I have been doing my best here in Germany to help these guys but I can’t do everything alone and I hope the Zimbabwe rugby stakeholders do something to help the players. It will definitely change the image of Zim rugby and ultimately the country will benefit from this because there are so many players coming out of Mbare Rugby Academy. My appeal to all the sponsors is please just try to give Mbare Rugby Academy a chance,” Sita said.
After hanging up his boots last year due to pressing working commitments, Manasah has immersed himself in the world of business in Germany.
While he is no longer involved in rugby, Sita says he has been using the mentality he used as a rugby player in his business venture as owner of a thriving fitness gym in Heidelberg.
“I officially stopped playing rugby last year, I was at a point where rugby and work were colliding and my coaches told me that it’s either you are playing or not,” Sita revealed.
“I’m an entrepreneur now, I have this big gym that I own now here in Germany so doubling the two was too much for me and I felt like I was not in a position to do both. I stopped playing rugby last year and it’s now all about business. The same mentality I had in rugby I have just shifted into business and I’m so happy to be where I am at the moment, I have three guys that are working for me now and the mission is big, to grow Manasahfitness to a big brand here in Germany and probably back home when the time comes.”
Sita, who also earned a few caps with the national XVs rugby side, the Sables, ruled out venturing into coaching rugby, although he has been providing some fitness programmes for the Zimbabwe Under-20 rugby side.
“I really don’t see myself getting into rugby coaching, my focus at the moment is on my gym and definitely making sure that this brand grows and maybe one day when I come back home I’ll be helping people with the fitness training that I have been doing here. I don’t see myself as a rugby coach but more on the nutrition and strength side and helping people to lose weight here in Germany.
“The Junior Sables head coach Shaun de Souza asked me for a programme and I was willing to do that to help him because Zimbabwe is my nation and if I’m able to assist in any way I’m always willing to give a helping hand,” Sita added.