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Aisha keeps the Tsimba flame burning

To rugby fans, the name is iconic. The name is to rugby what the Price name is to golf, what the Ndlovu name is to soccer, what the Black name is to tennis and what the Flower name is to cricket.

To rugby fans it is not easy to forget the exploits of the late Richard Tsimba, the man they called “The Black Diamond”. So good was Richard that he scored a first in local rugby by becoming the first black in the country to don the Sables jersey.

Richard starred for Zimbabwe at the 1987 and 1991 World Cups when Zimbabwe rugby was at its peak.
Then came “The King of Bloemfontein”, as Richard’s elder brother Kennedy is better known as. Despite playing a modest five tests for Zimbabwe before turning his back on his fatherland in a foiled bid to play for the Springboks, Kennedy is a legend in local rugby.

Once considered as the best fly-half in the country, the 5ft 11inches player became the first black to captain the Sables in a glittering career that took him to England and South Africa.

Enter onto the fray from the same family tree Aisha Tsimba, niece to the two Tsimba brothers, who has risen to the throne in the sport not on the field play, but in the boardroom.

Tsimba, who is a niece to Richard and Kennedy has added a new feather to her a hat, as she is now the national president of women’s rugby in the country after replacing Cathrine Sibanda two weeks ago.

She also sits in the Premier Soccer League disciplinary committee. She is also a former basketball player.
Tsimba, who played for Old Hararians and Cameo, is not shy of revealing her inspiration.

But why did such a lovely lady who can easily compete at any beauty pageant with her head raised high choose such a rough sport as rugby and considered as a man’s fortress?

“I grew up in a rugby family and that became the first sport I learnt to play as a kid. I was also exposed to a lot of rugby television recordings and I would watch with my mother’s brothers Kennedy and Richard. Every sport discussion in the family centred on rugby issues.

“They also took me to watch local rugby matches when I was a kid. However, I had to switch to basketball as primary schools then did not offer rugby,” she said.

Tsimba, a company secretary at Stanbic Bank — is not short of confidence ahead of her new task as she says all hands should be on the deck to move the sport.

“We have the potential to rise to greater heights in the spot. I want to access the situation on the ground to see what the structures are like. Just like cricket we can rise from where we are now as long as we market the game.
“Obviously the first thing would be to market the game to women. They have to see it not as a bashing thing as is the case. It is a good thing that we already have teams competing as that gives us somewhere to start from,” said the 32-year-old banker.

She also revealed her frustration at the way basketball is being run in the country.

“I have withdrawn my team (Stanbic) from the league owing to the confusion that has followed the sport. There should be no room for factionalism in sport. I hate it when a small sport such as basketball is divided,” she said.

Born in 1978 to Rose Tsimba, Aisha attended University of Swaziland where she played basketball and she also helped in the formation of Muchachas soccer team.

She then came back home in 2003 after a brief basketball coaching stint in South Africa to play for Old Hararians as an inside centre.

She also doubled up playing basketball for the Rodrieck Takawira-coached Cameo helping the team win numerous awards.
She however left to setup the Stanbic team which has since withdrawn from the league.

But, will the sport of basketball not suffer as it has seen more players opting to play rugby with some of them having represented the nation.

Names that quickly come to mind are Patience Chinhoyi, Helena Nyagato, Charity Ruchuchuti, Precious Pazani and Simbisayi Katye.

Will she scale to dizzy heights in the sport that gave her uncles fame and a little fortune? Time will tell.


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