As the victorious South African national rugby team prepare to return home to a hero’s welcome, one player’s life story has captured the world’s imagination. Captain, Siya Kolisi has been on an extraordinary journey. Growing up in an extremely poor township outside Port Elizabeth, his mother died when he was just 15 years old and his family struggled to get him a decent education.
“Sometimes we didn’t have enough money to pay my primary school fees of R50 ($4) a year,” Siya said. Relying solely on his talent and a relentlessly positive attitude, Siya was eventually scouted for his athletic talent after being spotted playing a sports game with his friends.
He earned a scholarship to the prestigious Grey High School in Port Elizabeth. The rest was history. Fast forward to Tokyo and this extraordinary player, the first black man to captain the South African national team, was lifting the Webb Ellis trophy aloft, his proud family watching on.
Speaking to SportGo Mag just prior to the World Cup, the rugby star opened up about how the Lord had been getting him ready for the big stage by refining his character. “God has been preparing me for such a time as this,” he said. “While struggling with a lot of things personally, temptation, sins and lifestyle choices, I realised I wasn’t living according to what I was calling myself: a follower of Christ. I was getting by, but I hadn’t decided to fully commit myself to Jesus Christ and start living according to His way.”
Kolisi continued: “Something I was struggling with in my personal life was suddenly exposed to the public (God will do this to cause us to make a decision). I knew I either had to change my life, or lose everything. Up until then everything I was fighting against was hidden, but when my sin was exposed I decided to lose my life and find it in Christ. Walking alongside a spiritual mentor, I’ve been able to discover the saving power of Christ in a whole new way. This new life has given me a peace I’ve never experienced before. Now that I have given everything to God, nothing else affects me. I now live and play with the freedom of knowing His plan will always happen, and at the end of the day, that’s all I care about!”