World Cup-winning Springbok captain Siya Kolisi was named Champion of the Year at the Peace and Sport Awards gala in Monaco on Thursday night.
Kolisi, the first black captain in the Springboks’ 126-year history has been on the receiving end of many accolades and much international attention since the Boks triumph in Japan.
The man who comes from a background of hunger and deprivation in an Eastern Cape township has become a national hero and a symbol of the revival of the rainbow nation, won the Peace and Sports Award for “Champion of the Year” for his commitment to education and social cohesion.
The Champion of the Year award ceremony took place at the end of the second day of the Peace and Sport International Forum recognised an athlete that has led a significant and sustainable sport initiative towards peaceful change.
Other nominees for the award included American footballer Carli Lloyd, Croatian tennis player Marin Cilic and French footballer Eric Abidal.
In an interview with AFP, Kolisi shared that while winning games is important, off-the-field achievements, such as the peace award are also significant.
“It’s a great honour and a privilege for me and it’s great to see people recognise people that use their voice and use their platform and do some work off the field as well and it will inspire people to do more. We’re not just sportsmen. We can do much more off the field.”
The 28-year-old did however also reveal that playing in a team makes it difficult for him to receive solo awards or recognition.
“You’re playing a team sport and that always makes it hard to get individual accolades because there are so many people around me that have helped me. Among my teammates, there are so many other leaders,” Kolisi said
President and founder of Peace and Sport, Joël Bouzou also shared his sentiments on the merit of the award
“The Peace and Sport Awards are a unique opportunity to focus the world on sport’s initiatives for peace,We all have a role to play and we must use this wonderful tool of sport for peace.
“I would also like to congratulate Siya Kolisi, Champion of the Year, who, like Nelson Mandela, has shown a unique power of sport to bring people together.” said Bouzou.
By Gerald Dandah