The captain of South Africa’s national rugby team has returned to his hometown with his teammates for the first time since they won the World Cup in Japan.
Siya Kolisi is the first black captain of the national rugby team, known as the Springboks. In South Africa, where apartheid was in place until the early 1990s, the national rugby team used to be made up mostly of white players.
On Sunday, the Springboks visited Port Elizabeth — Kolisi’s hometown — as part of a victory tour of the country.
An enthusiastic crowd awaited Kolisi when he arrived with his teammates in the township where he grew up. Supporters cheered when he raised the Webb Ellis Cub while standing on top a double-decker bus.
One of Kolisi’s uncles, Vukile Kolisi, talked about the rugby hero’s childhood. He said his nephew used to sleep on the floor because there weren’t enough beds for everyone in the family.
He also recounted that sometimes, when there was nothing in the house to eat, his nephew had to live on sugar water.
Former schoolteacher and Kolisi’s first rugby coach, Eric Songwiqi, said Kolisi was small as a boy, but was diligent and had great passion and enthusiasm for the sport.
Kolisi told reporters that he wants everybody from a similar background to know it’s possible to succeed if they work hard.