Siya Kolisi says a post-rugby career in South Africa’s politics isn’t something that interests him when the inspirational Springbok captain hangs up his boots.
The first black captain of the Springboks when he was appointed in 2018, Kolisi led South Africa to a World Cup title in Japan in 2019 and then a title defence four years later in France.
Kolisi’s inspirational rags-to-riches story, his authority as Bok skipper and the help he provides to disadvantaged communities have seen South Africans tip him for a political position in the country when he retires.
However, in an interview with former Wales flyhalf Dan Biggar in the Daily Mail, Kolisi said instead wants to focus on his philanthropy through his foundation when he does call it a day on his rugby career.
“Politics? Nah. You don’t want to see me there,” Kolisi said. “I’m going to dedicate myself to my foundation. I went to New York last week and did some fundraising for it.
“South Africa is number one in the world in gender-based violence. My aunt and my mum were the first people I knew that were being abused.
“In my community you see it so many times that it becomes normal. That’s not good, being immune to things like that. If a man and a woman argued then it would end up in a fight, because men don’t really speak.
“I learnt to speak by going through therapy. I had to go to marriage counselling because I couldn’t give everything to my wife, because my heart was so hard and I didn’t know how to speak.
“In my late 20s, I started talking to someone and the first time I went she said: ‘You are damaged in every level. The stuff that you saw is not normal’.
“It’s extreme, it’s bad. You have to speak about it, get through it. That’s why you grow up and your heart is so hard. Something happens in the community, you fight with someone, forgive them, and you move on. That’s normal in my neighbourhood.”
Kolisi arrived back from the World Cup to a hero’s welcome in early November, with tens of thousands of fans flooding the streets of Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban and Gqeberha to thank his Springboks.
“It’s been wild. The trophy parade in 2019 was big but this was 20 times bigger,” he said.
“A lot of people have been in a dark place but you could see their joy when we travelled around South Africa. It’s like they had been waiting for something to lift them.
“Some people couldn’t afford to watch us at home during the World Cup because you have to pay for the TV. People started opening up malls at 10pm to watch us play. Different backgrounds, different races, all sitting together.
“When we went home I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. In Cape Town, the bus couldn’t move. You’d look up and you couldn’t see land, you just see people. Then you turn a corner and there are even more people. It was special.”
Photo: WIKUS DE WET/AFP