WATCH: Sport speaks every single language, says Bok captain Siya Kolisi
BERLIN – Siya Kolisi may be the Springbok captain who has become one of the most recognisable faces in sport around the world, but even he has been star-struck by some of the big names in Berlin, where the Laureus Sports Awards will take place on Monday night.
A big Liverpool supporter, Kolisi mentioned soccer greats Cafu and Arsene Wenger, as well as tennis legend Boris Becker, among those he was happy to have spotted in the German capital over the past two days.
Kolisi will be hoping to lift another trophy tonight, as the Boks have been nominated for the Team of the Year award.
But what has endeared him to the sports stars was rather their contribution to helping young people in need through Laureus’ Sport For Good programmes, which he feels the Boks experienced in a way when South Africa celebrated their Rugby World Cup triumph through the trophy tour across Mzansi.
“A lot of the people here do… what I really like about them – they are always doing stuff off the field that encourages us as young sportsmen to know that you can do so much more than just play sport,” Kolisi said at an informal gathering at a Berlin restaurant on Sunday night, where he was joined by teammate Faf de Klerk.
“I have seen a couple of people like Mr (Lewis) Pugh, Mr Cafu and Arsene Wenger, which is quite cool. And Mr Boris Becker as well. We enjoy moments like this and we just want to learn from people and see what it is that makes them special.
“We won, but we want to be consistent and remain there for a very long time. Also, make sure we use our platform for good, which is why I am grateful to put on this Laureus jacket. I just want to do as much as we can to try to empower young people, because sport speaks every single language, and we’ve realised that.
“We’ve seen what happens in South Africa, and driving through the townships… kids have boards saying ‘Faf, I want to be like you one day’, and that’s pretty special.”
And while they may be world champions, it doesn’t mean that they have nothing left to achieve. Kolisi is keen to get back on to the field soon following a knee injury suffered while playing for the Stormers, and said that the Boks must strive to provide further inspiration to the nation.
“Coach Rassie’s speech on the final is on social media, and he asked us to play for hope for the country, and he never asked us to do that (before). But that day, he knew that was exactly what the country needed,” the 28-year-old said.
“And the videos that we saw during the week (of the final) was amazing – people watching rugby at malls, in the taverns. For the final, they put up big screens for homeless people to watch rugby. So, it was more than just rugby for us.
“When we ran out there, we knew that the full weight of South Africa was on our shoulders. We thought we were playing at Twickenham, as it was just white at the stadium – everybody was wearing the white (England) jerseys!
“So, since ’95, rugby has just been a huge part of South African history, and we work hard every day just to make sure that we support the people. We are not going to win everything, but (set the example) by how hard you work and off the field…”@ashfakmohamed