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Youth Day reflection: Springbok skipper Siya Kolisi on...



Youth Day reflection: Springbok skipper Siya Kolisi on turning 30 on June 16

Siya Kolisi. (Photo: Craig Kolesky / Red Bull Content Pool)

Kolisi’s story, from the depths of poverty and despair to the top of the rugby world, is inspirational.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

In 2019, Siya Kolisi became the first black player to captain a World Cup winning team when the Springboks famously won the Webb Ellis Cup.

On 2 November 2019, the Springboks upset the form book and toppled England 32-12 to claim their third Rugby World Cup title. It was significant for many reasons but, most importantly, it was a symbol of hope. It was a moment that showed the power of unity and collective purpose – and central to that was Bok captain Kolisi.

The Bok skipper turns 30 on Youth Day and, as he approaches a new decade with new challenges, he took some time to reflect on his career and his goals for the future, which includes next month’s series against the British & Irish Lions. 

What does turning 30 mean to you?

I haven’t thought about it but I’m excited! I think it’s a great opportunity to start fresh and look forward to what I want to do. I’m going to take a moment to reflect on the work that I have done, look for where I can improve and see what more I can do with my foundation – plan for the next 30 years. Hopefully it will be better than the previous [30].

When was the best time of your life?

My family has been the best time of my life. My wife and I, our kids, reconnecting with my siblings. I lost connection with my siblings for seven years and finding them again has, alongside my wife giving birth, given me something to live for. Career-wise, winning the Rugby World Cup was also special, but my family means everything to me. 

What is your definition of success?

I think it’s how happy you are with what you don’t have. What you have or don’t have doesn’t determine how happy you are, it’s the people who you have around you. When I look at success, even though when I was younger we were struggling financially, I was happy. That’s what I strive for – try to find that same joy in my everyday life. That’s success to me. 

Would the 10-year-old you be proud of the current you?

Yes! Right now, yes! I think so. There’s still so much to do. The 30-year-old me wants to change so many 10-year-old’s stories from where I come from. Let them know it’s possible, it’s been done before, that barriers have been broken – I want to make sure that the “next Siya” doesn’t have to struggle the way I struggled. 

What is your 30th-birthday wish?

I just want to see all my friends, have good people around. I would like to have all of my family with me. 

What is your favourite motivational quote?

I believe in the phrase Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu. It means “a person is a person through other people”. I believe that’s how I made it in life. You need others to make it in life. I don’t really believe in the concept of “self-made” – there’s always people making a difference in your life.

What life lessons have you learnt from fatherhood?

The biggest present you can give to your kids is time. That’s all my son and daughter want to do, play with me. They quickly get over toys because there’s always new toys. That’s the biggest thing they want – time. DM168

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for free to Pick n Pay Smart Shoppers at these Pick n Pay stores.


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