So often, the power of sport to break boundaries has been evident. Race, culture, ethnicity are all transcended when the sport is at the centre of things.
There was a sense of jubilation throughout Mzansi when Siya Kolisi- the first black captain of South African Rugby for 129 years- led the Springboks to glory against England in 2019.
By his own admission, the 29-year-old is aware that the win went way beyond the rugby field, and it once again highlighted the power of sport- whether it is rugby, soccer or athletics- to bring a nation together.
“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,” Kolisi said speaking to Adidas THE ANTHEM.
As he prepares to return to the rugby field following a COVID-19 enforced layoff, Kolisi takes pride in being selected as the most influential figure in rugby, something he attributes to his work done off the field.
“It's a great honour and a privilege. I think it's not only for me. I think it’s for the work that my wife has done, the encouragement that she's always given me and for pushing me to be so much more than just a rugby player. Something that I've been doing since I started my professional rugby, I've been doing lots of work off the field. I know there are going to be so many people who come in and win trophies and people will break history over and over, but I believe the work you do off the field and how you use your voice, is the most important. You were given this platform to make a difference and use it for the best of everybody else. Without people, I wouldn't be able to do what I love, and I think that's what this shows. All the work I've been doing off the field, I think that's why I got the award,” Kolisi added.