One-on-one with Siya Kolisi ahead of his 30th birthday

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Siya Kolisi, Captain of the South Africa rugby team celebrates during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Champions Tour on November 7, 2019 in Gauteng, South Africa.
Siya Kolisi, Captain of the South Africa rugby team celebrates during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Champions Tour on November 7, 2019 in Gauteng, South Africa.
Photo by Lee Warren / Gallo Images/Getty Images

When we look back and commemorate the Soweto Uprising of 1976 on 16 June, 2021, Springbok captain and Red Bull athlete Siya Kolisi will also be celebrating a milestone birthday - his 30th! 

As he enters a new decade of his life, he'll also be going through some interesting life changes. He reflects on what turning 30 means to him, the lessons he's learnt throughout his journey, and what fans can expect from him in the near future. 

What does turning 30 mean to you?

I haven’t thought about it, but I’m excited! I think it’s a great opportunity to start fresh and look forward to what I want to do. I’m going to take a moment to reflect on the work that I have done, look for where I can improve and see what more I can do with my foundation – plan for the next 30 years, hopefully, it will be better than the previous.

 
BERLIN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 17: Laureus World Team
South Africa Rugby Union Team captain, Siya Kolisi, poses with the Laureus World Team of the Year trophy at the Verti Hall during the 2020 Laureus World Sports Awards on February 17, 2020 in Berlin, Germany.

What is your next big adventure going to be?

Moving to Durban! That’s going to be my next big adventure, I’m looking forward to it, it’s big for me. I honestly thought I would retire here in Cape Town, finish my career here, we are busy building a house here in Cape town, none of this was ever in the plan but it’s a new challenge. For 30-year-old Siya, it’s going to be exciting to try to impress your new teammates and fight for your spot again – it's going to re-energise me! 

When was the best time of your life?

My family has been the best time of my life. My wife and I, our kids, reconnecting with my siblings. I lost connection with my siblings for 7 years and finding them after those 7 years has, alongside my wife giving birth, given me something to live for. Career-wise, winning the Rugby World Cup was also special but my family means everything to me.

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - NOVEMBER 11: Rachel and
Rachel and Siya Kolisi during the South African Springboks Rugby World Cup 2019 Champions Tour on November 11, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa.


What is your definition of success?

I think it’s how happy you are with what you don’t have. What you have or don’t have doesn’t determine how happy you are, it’s the people who you have around you. When I look at success, even though when I was younger we were struggling financially, I was happy. That’s what I strive for, try to find that same joy in my everyday life, that’s success to me.

Would the 10-year-old you be proud of the current you?

Yes! Right now, yes! I think so. There’s still so much to do, the 30-year-old me wants to change so many 10-year-old’s stories from where I come from. Let them know it’s possible, it’s been done before, that barriers have been broken – I want to make sure that the ‘next Siya’ doesn’t have to struggle the way I struggled.

Siya Kolisi poses for a portrait during a photosho
Springbok captain, Siya Kolisi.


What is your 30th birthday wish?

I just want to see all my friends and have good people around. I would like to have my family with me.

What is your favourite motivational quote?

"Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” – that means ‘a person is a person through other people’. That’s how I believe that’s how I made it in life. That’s what I believe in, you need others to make it in life. I don’t really believe in the concept of ‘Self-Made’ - there’s always people making a difference in your life.

BERLIN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 17: Laureus World Team
South Africa Rugby Union Team captain, Siya Kolisi, poses with the Laureus World Team of the Year trophy at the Verti Hall during the 2020 Laureus World Sports Awards on February 17, 2020 in Berlin, Germany.


What life lessons have you learnt from fatherhood?

The biggest present you can give to your kids is time. That’s all my son & daughter want to do, play with me. They quickly get over toys because there are always new toys. That’s the biggest thing they want, time.

Interview by Red Bull

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