There was a time not so long ago in South Africa when people like Siya Kolisi weren’t supposed to captain the country’s beloved rugby team.
Yet to spice it up even more, Springbok captain Siya Kolisi is on the verge of following in the footsteps of two of his predecessors in bringing the Webb-Ellis trophy to South Africa.
The importance of Kolisi – the first black Springbok skipper – leading us to possible World Cup glory cannot be overstated.
Not only does Kolisi carry the dreams of 59 million South Africans, but his story will inspire a generation of poor black boys and girls who are looking for their one break in life.
“If South Africa go on and win with Siya Kolisi as the captain, it will be absolutely monumental,” said former Springbok winger Bryan Habana emphasising how a Boks victory can be catalytic in bringing the “Rainbow Nation” closer together once more.
A professional career in the fast lane of South African rugby seemed a lifetime away for a young boy growing up in the township of Zwide, Port Elizabeth.
The men in green have won the Rugby World Cup twice, and Kolisi is now at least 80 minutes away from another very special honour and reshaping the history of South African sport.
“For me, things that we dreamed about were being a taxi driver or doing things that I’m not supposed to be doing,” the backrow forward said.
Kolisi’s story represents a South Africa that works. It shows that we have a system in place that identifies and rewards poor, black children who excel at their craft.
“When I was a kid, there’s no way I would’ve dreamed of being Springbok captain.”
To many South Africans, Kolisi represents an impossible dream — from being born into desperate poverty during the final years of apartheid to becoming the country’s first black captain.
It further shows how rugby continues to break the chains, shackles and gaols of its past image in a country where racial tensions in sport often spill over into the corridors of nationalist politics.
The 28-year-old Kolisi, who will earn his 50th test cap in the final, has endeared himself to South Africa’s rugby fan base with his interaction on social media.
He was at it again when he took a video in the changing room after the semi-final, surrounded by his team-mates, to express his gratitude for all the support from back home.
There was just one black player, Chester Williams, in the side that won the 1995 World Cup, yet that triumph was seen as a turning point for South Africa as Nelson Mandela presented the trophy wearing the Springbok jersey — a shirt that previously symbolized white Afrikaner nationalism.
It was a moment that inspired legendary Springbok Bryan Habana, one of the two black players to play in the 2007 World Cup final.
It’s been 24 tough and sobering years since François Pienaar and former president Nelson Mandela lifted the Webb Ellis trophy in 1995
Siyamthanda Kolisi has showed us that you can conquer the world despite hardship, struggle and not being born with a silver spoon glued to our mouth.
He is a South African hero in representing the dreams, aspirations and realities of overcoming adversity in dealing with everyday struggles.
Kolisi is proving to be the beacon of hope that his nation has been crying out for in these hard and diabolical times.
Sport truly in Madiba parlance has the magical ability to make us put our differences aside for a fleeting moment and rejoice in unity.
By Gerald Dandah