Siya: 'Sport is not the answer'
WATCH as World Cup-winning Springbok captain Siyamthanda Kolisi explains that while sport is a ‘unifying factor’, it is not the solution to all of society’s ills.
Speaking after the launch of the series Ready for Sport, Kolisi delves into his personal journey and discusses how sport might not be the answer, but it has the potential to bring individuals and communities together.
Kolisi explains why it is important to “stay ready”, because pushing forward and maintaining focus can lead to greatness.
In this question and answer session, accompanied by a powerful short film, Kolisi’s poignant messages explain how success on the sport filed can bring communities together.
“Sports might not be the answer right now, but it teaches us that impossible challenges must be faced and overcome,” Kolisi said.
“Now that sport is back, we can’t waste this chance.
“We should be playing with more heart and more fire, because nobody knows what the future holds. Opportunities will come, and we must be ready.”
(Continue reading below …)
Siyamthanda Kolisi in his own words
QUESTION: What role can sport play for those facing adversity?
SIYAMTHANDA KOLISI: Sport has taught me so much and kept me away from negative influences in the township. When I wasn’t at training, my friends came and found me and told me I had to be at training. I knew if I wasn’t there, I was letting somebody else down. Sport gives you the opportunity to dream big. When I was training, I was dreaming of what I could be one day. For me, being here now and doing what I’m doing, sends the message to kids in the township that their dreams are valid. They can relate to someone who looks just like them and who’s done all these things. What I love about sport is that when you’re playing, there’s no colour, race, none of that stuff. If you’re good, you’re good, and that’s how life should be as well.
QUESTION: Was becoming World Champions in 2019 a catalyst for change in South Africa?
SIYAMTHANDA KOLISI: Sport is not the answer. It’s definitely not the answer, but it does bring people together in a way that little else does – winning trophies during a difficult time in our country. The conversation around race is one that still needs to be opened up for discussion, supporting education, understanding but also compassion simply by listening. We need to break out of our comfort zones. The best way to get to know me, for example, is to learn about where I come from and how that contributes to my drive. There needs to be a want to understand and sympathise with one another. And we need to start asking the harder questions in open, non-judgemental forums. The beauty of our country is that every South African is different – instead of viewing that as a negative we should be celebrating it.
QUESTION: Have you witnessed anything in your career that demonstrates the power of sport?
SIYAMTHANDA KOLISI: Yes, in 1995 I was young, but I saw what winning the world’s biggest rugby tournament did for South Africa. Nelson Mandela was president at the time, and he used the power of sport to unify the country – he put on the national jersey and walked out onto the field – it could’ve gone the opposite way, but the whole stadium was shouting his name. I remember talking to Francois Pienaar, who was the captain at the time, and him telling me he couldn’t forget the sound. The whole stadium was shouting, ‘Madiba, Madiba,’ and, ‘Nelson, Nelson.’ Then he realised Mr. Mandela was wearing the national jersey. What that did to him, you know, he wasn’t expecting that, he wasn’t ready for that. Mr. Mandela knew how important rugby was to the Afrikaans people, or the White people of South Africa. He used that to try and bring everybody together. I think a lot of Black South Africans saw that. They were like, “Okay, if our leader can do that, surely we can start working our way into coming around to it.” You saw some of the pictures, people hugging from different races. What we did in 2007 as well – I remember sitting in the township watching John Smit lift the trophy and the excitement I saw, the people that don’t even know rugby in the township, everybody was just happy. I remember I stepped outside, and I saw police vans and I saw ambulances turning on their lights. Everybody was just happy. A lot of the people, they didn’t have jobs, they didn’t have anything, but that moment made us forget about all our struggles, made us forget about everything else, but how proud we were to be South African. Deep inside our hearts, we were so happy of what our country could do. We’re a third world country playing as a first world country. That was then in 2007. And in 2019 we knew what we had to do. The country was facing terrible gender-based violence and acts of xenophobia. We knew that to win would mean so much to South Africa and that’s why we gave it all we had. We walked in there confident knowing that it would give a bit of hope, or something to smile about, to the people of South Africa who really needed it. That’s what it means for me to play sport. If it can give you that little bit of hope inside – if that’s all it does, I’m happy with that. That’s enough for me, that makes me happy.
Source: adidas 3Stripes