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"Hunger makes you do things that you never thought"

Copyrights: Stewart Baird

"Hunger makes you do things that you never thought"

The answer for Kolisi was to do sport, to go to training. The story of the man who captained the Springboks to Rugby World Cup victory.

There is not a more definitive example of sport’s resounding influence on a player, community and country than the story of South African national rugby union team captain Siya Kolisi. The 28-year-old father of two catapulted into the global headlines after leading the Springboks to the Rugby World Cup 2019 title in early November. Sport fan or not, Kolisi’s words to the media cannot go overstated.

Growing up we didn’t have much to eat, so I would often go to sleep on an empty stomach,” Kolisi said in a pre-World Cup promotion video with South African Broadcasting Corporation. “When you get so hungry sometimes, you tend to want to go steal and break into people’s houses just so you can eat. But for me, that’s when I went to training. I trained for my school team and then I would go train for my club.

It’s tough to stay on the right path because sometimes hunger makes you do things that you never thought you would do. Some of my friends would steal and some passed away because they got into bad things,” he told Japanese media.

The president of the rugby club in Kolisi’s hometown summarised in an interview with the BBC, “Sport can bring people together in this country. There are places you can’t walk at night, because of criminals. Sport is the only vehicle that can change that. If you take those boys and put them in sport it can change them and it can change our society.

Sport’s influence on Kolisi extends especially to his hometown. His primary school trainer told The Irish Times, “He has ploughed back into the community and the school where he played rugby. He is not looking after himself alone. He looks after the poorest communities and clubs in Zwide. He is playing a vital role to change the lives of youngsters and players.

Kolisi knows full well his role, as told to Rugby World magazine: “I don’t see rugby as a job – I see it as a platform to inspire people. When I’m on the field and look to an audience, I see all colours and all social classes. We, as players, represent the whole country, not just a group. I want to be a positive role model.


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Nicholas Bruce


Friday, November 22, 2019 - 10:13