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"I’ve learnt that no matter where you come from, or what your background is, you can aspire to be whatever you want to be."
Q&A with Siya Kolisi
It’s no secret that you have overcome extraordinary adversity to get to where you are today. What were the key turning points as you pursued your rugby dream, and what stands out for you as some of the most important lessons learned?
I’ve learnt that no matter where you come from, or what your background is, you can aspire to be whatever you want to be. The key thing is to surround yourself with the right people, as they determine the kind of path you are going towards. The important thing that helped me through the challenges in my life was receiving love and support from those around me, this helped me on my journey. I also learnt to trust my spirit and take time to understand myself better. I am a naturally positive person and try to take things as they come.
In terms of South Africa and our country’s current economic and societal outlook, what are you most concerned about, and what are you positive about.
Looking at the state of the country at the moment, the key issues are education, unemployment and homelessness. These are tough things to see. The positive side of it is that there are a lot of people like me who want to make a difference and aren’t waiting for our leaders to make the change. We as young people need to stand up and make our contribution, no matter how big or small it is.
What are your views on philanthropy and giving back?
Giving back is what drives me. I believe we are put on to a specific path for good reasons and I believe mine is not about me succeeding as a rugby player but about the people I can inspire. This is what drives me to get out of bed every day. It also comes from knowing and understanding the contribution I have to make and the people who depend on me to give back.
Talk us through a typical day in the life of Siya Kolisi.
A day in my life involves early mornings to get my training done, training usually ends at 3pm and then I’ll go home and probably fetch Nick (my son) if my wife hasn’t done so. I’ll spend the rest of the day at home with my family. My wife always pushes me to spend more time with the kids no matter how tired I am. Family time can be spent cooking or giving the kids a bath. Later on, I put my son to bed, I try to do this as much as possible as I don’t get to do this whilst I am travelling. That’s it.