28-year-old Siya Kolisi plays as a flanker for rugby team the Stormers in Super Rugby, and for Western Province in the Currie Cup. Most importantly, he is the first black captain of the South African national team, the Springboks, and in 2019 led the team to victory in the Rugby World Cup final against England.
In December 2019, the athlete was named as one of New African magazine’s 100 Most Influential Africans. And in January 2020, at the Rugby Union Writers’ Club dinner, Kolisi won the main Pat Marshall Award for the person who has made the biggest impact on the sport in the past 12 months.
The Guardian sets out his story — one of infinite triumph against the odds. He was raised in a tough area outside Port Elizabeth, with so little money that his favourite toy as a child was a brick. Sometimes there was no food to eat before training, and as he couldn’t afford a kit He for one of his first rugby trials, he had to go in his boxer shorts.
Yet since 2018 he’s been South Africa’s captain. His role is especially important in a country famed for Apartheid-era segregation laws. It’s also a long time coming: the winning 1995 World Cup team from South Africa which only one black player; The 2019 team had 12 in the squad.
Kolisi’s presence is so large that he’s now being represented by Jay-Z’s talent agency, Roc Nation. He’s also giving back to his local community, financing new rugby fields in some of South Africa’s poorest communities for children to play on.
“My goal is to make sure that one day everyone has a fair opportunity and all the schools play against each other, like kids who are disadvantaged play guys from the suburbs,” he told the BBC.
“I know we have challenges and everyone does but I can’t sit here and complain and moan because this won’t change. This is a beautiful country. In the areas where I grew up, areas are struggling – people are still happy, some are hopeful and all they want is an opportunity. I’m hoping some of us can give that opportunity.
“In everything I do, I want South Africa to be part of the conversation.”Tags: Rugby, South Africa, Sport
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