Harare – Tabitha Tsatsa’s Power House Athletics Club is the unsung hero of sport in Southern Africa.
Among the alumni of the unassuming academy are Hellalia Johannes, who holds the Namibian records in the 10km, 20km, half-marathon and marathon. Not only that, Johannes is a World Championships bronze medallist in the marathon.
Other products of the academy are Eswatini’s Winile Mnisi, who specialises in the marathon, and another long-distance runner, South Africa’s Jennifer Sithole.
Tabitha Tsatsa herself was an elite long-distance runner, dominating races on several continents during her prime more than a decade ago.
So it is no great wonder that she established an academy to hone road racers from the Southern Africa region.
The academy is in the largely low-income town of Chitungwiza, about 25km south of Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare.
The Two Oceans Marathon winner told The Southern Times Sport that, “We have churned out some of Southern Africa’s best runners. Our academy, Power House, is built on a humble foundation. We cater for those from underprivileged backgrounds.
“We scout for talent in the ghetto and the rural areas as well. Our products have done so well over the years and that gives us the verve to carry on.
“We have more than 200 athletes on our books at any given time. The academy has trained coaches and volunteer physical trainers… But it is not smooth sailing.”
Some of her biggest challenges have come from the mere fact that some people do not think women have any business in sport.
“It was never easy. The road was bumpy and, you know, being a female and trying to set up a project of that magnitude. However I made sure that nothing would distract me from building the empire I envisaged in my mind. With the help of the authorities and some supportive society members, we managed to come up with this.”
Tsatsa has attracted sponsorships and partnerships from established organisations and big names such as JM Busha, who backs several athletics tournaments in Africa.