EXCLUSIVE: Siya Kolisi as you have never seen him before


THE SKY is a dazzle of blue and so is the sea, as it howls, hurling water towards the white sand of the Cape Town beach. 

South African national rugby captain and Rugby World Cup winner, is not dressed in the green and gold of the Springboks, nor is he in the blue and white kit of the Cape Town Stormers rugby kit.

He is wearing a black and gold diving/surfing suit and is greeted in the parking lot by Jordan Michael Smith one of South Africa’s top surfer.

Smith has a special present for Kolisi, who is still basking in the glory of making history as the first African to lead the Springboks to the 2019 World Cup victory. Smith presents Kolisi with his first-ever surfboard, a light grey, and black beauty. Kolisi, beaming with a smile, accepts at the board, and hugs Smith. “It’s my first ever,” he says, as they two of them hug, smile, laugh, and head for the sea.

“Are there Sharks out there,” asks Kolisi, with a smile. 

“No,” replies Smith. “Only Stormers…”

The two of them bursts into a hearty laugh, hugs as their bare feet stomped on the white beach sand, making their way to the water. 

Kolisi, who has faced and conquered many challenges in his life, is a surfing novice but he took the water with confidence.

He and Smith were men on a mission. They want to highlight the importance of sports of change lives of ordinary people across South Africa, Africa and the world. 

They also came together and went surfing to inspire young people to believe in themselves and have the confidence that their dreams to represent their countries at the highest level is possible. 

“There’s no way I would have thought I would be sitting here with you right now. And for kids to see that those moments like one day somebody is going to see what we doing right now and they’re going to be inspired and you know and going to be doing the same thing. That’s all that we can do with what we have right now and. 

“Our coach told us he said, ‘This is the one game in your life that you wanna play because this game will change your life”. But it’s amazing at the same time because it just shows that sport has the power to do so much more than we think we can you. We can touch so many lives. We can change a whole nation, unify the nation through sport,” says Kolisi.

Smith concurs. “Yeah. Like you say you know, I think being in that position and having the ability to like inspire other people. If you inspire one person, I think that you’ve done your job, you know.“

An important feature in the interaction between the two is that Smith is preparing to represent South Africa at the highest level in surfing and draws inspiration from the Springbok victory at the Rugby World Cu held in Tokyo, Japan. 

“I mean, for me, I’m extremely excited, to be honest. I mean, not really just to represent my country at the highest level. And it’s gonna be the first time, you know, in surfing. So it’s quite a big thing. And I just want to go there and just make sure that I’m prepared you know for everything. All my preparation and stuff has already kinda been done. Now, it’s just the kinda about putting your best foot forward and having fun and going for it,” Smith enthuses. 

Both Kolisi and Smith, who are the few Africans in the exclusive club of premium Red Bull athletes, emphasise, in their interactions, the vital importance of working hard, every day, in order to get to the top of your game and to the top of the world. 

Smith emphasises the importance of hard work. “Every single day that you work hard, it’s just building your confidence and making you more ready for that moment when it comes. And then when it comes…”

Kolisi’s first day out surfing was fun but it was not easy. As he congratulates Smith on smashing the waves, he reveals what he went through.

“You just smash it like these waves smashed me today. I wasn’t prepared for that moment,” admits Kolisi as he wishes Smith well in his quest to represent South Africa at the world surfing championships. And the two South African sporting icons are not done.

“Cheers to many more,” the national rugby captain says to Smith..

  • SURFING EXPERIENCE: Siya Kolisi and Jordy Smith  in Cape Town, South Africa. Photos: RedBull

Translate »