Influential Kolisi in People’s Choice Award

SIYA Kolisi talks to the crowd during the 2023 Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour. | BackpagePix

SIYA Kolisi talks to the crowd during the 2023 Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour. | BackpagePix

Published Apr 20, 2024


SPRINGBOK stars Siya Kolisi and Eben Etzebeth are set to battle it out for the prestigious People’s Choice Award alongside Bafana Bafana player Percy Tau, road running queen Gerda Steyn and sailor Kirsten Neuschafer.

The four sports stars were confirmed as nominees for the category in the 17th edition of the SA Sports Awards, to be hosted by the Department of Sports at North West’s Sun City Superbowl on May 5.

If what entertainer Trevor Noah has said about Kolisi regarding his being named in TIME magazine’s recently released 2024 list of the 100 most influential people in the world is anything to go by, the other three in contention for the award may well just surrender.

Noah said Kolisi is the “embodiment of hope” and richly deserves his place on Time magazine’s Top 100 list.

If it was Nelson Mandela who put South Africa on the map for Americans, it is Noah who has popularised the country. Now, the Springbok captain has been recognised for his feat in leading the Boks to back-to-back World Cups while embracing the impoverished and giving them a voice.

Noah, a comedian, author and television host, who could well be on a list of the 100 most popular people on the planet, remains a South African at heart and seized the opportunity to sing Kolisi’s praises.

“You can’t separate South Africa’s history from rugby. Nelson Mandela once offered rugby as an olive branch between opposing sides of the country, so there’s an immense amount of pride when it comes to the sport,” the 40-year-old Noah said in tribute. “It’s like the connective tissue of the nation.”

Noah, who was on this same list in 2018, added: “Siya, as the captain of the national rugby team, is right at the centre. He’s been the embodiment of hope during a time in which many South Africans find it hard to hold on to any. Through political strife, an energy crisis and the effects of Covid-19, Siya has made rugby into something more than just a competition. His multiple victories – the country’s victories – have meant so much.

“Through his wisdom and humility, Siya has taught us what a powerful captain should be: Someone who serves and inspires those he leads. And for him to lead a team in a historically white sport, to be loved and adored by fans of all races, is an immense achievement.”

The other South Africans to have made the list are President Cyril Ramaphosa and Caster Semenya, both in 2019.

The list was first published in 1999 as the result of a debate among American academics, politicians and journalists.

“Being named to the 2024 #TIME100 list is an incredible honour, one that deeply humbles me,” Kolisi said.

“It’s a profound responsibility to stand alongside individuals who dedicate their lives to enriching others.

“This recognition isn’t just for me, it reflects the numerous individuals and communities who have poured into me and shaped me to be the person I am, and am becoming.”

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