Nino Severino: Springboks’ World Cup win is a reminder that sport can help change the world
- Credit: PA
In his latest column, Nino Severino discusses South Africa’s win in the Rugby World Cup Final – and the powerful story of Springboks captain Siya Kolisi.
If you are a rugby fan, you will know that England suffered the heart-breaking experience of losing the World Cup final to South Africa last weekend.
For me, there is an incredibly powerful story that has emerged from this global rugby spectacle - and that's the tale of the South African captain, Siya Kolisi.
His is a story which creates hope, through sport, and can empower children from deprived areas and backgrounds to dream big and rise to the very top.
There have been so many incredible stories of inspirational individuals, who fought against many limiting factors and eventually went on to defy all the odds to become sporting icons, the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Serena Williams, Rocky Marciano and Pele, to name but a few.
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All these legends came from very challenging environments, and all of them survived and thrived against all the odds.
And this is why Kolisi represents a significant element of the incredible success of the South African Springboks team - this was not only a sporting success, it was a gigantic human accomplishment.
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He has emerged from this story as an individual who has a gift of saying the right thing, at the right time, After he lifted the William Webb Ellis Trophy, he said: "This victory will pull the country together, we had one goal and we have achieved it."
Clearly this is a man that has felt the pain of his country, the trauma that many South Africans have, and are still experiencing, on a day to day basis.
He knows how they feel, and knows how this victory can lift their spirits and not only make life just that little bit more tolerable, but, in many cases, give hope and belief, where before there simply was none.
He also said: "A lot of us in South Africa just need an opportunity and there are so many untold stories."
This comes from a man who has the intelligence to know that this historic win can unearth many other great stories that lie untapped within the normal day to day lives of so many of the South African population.
There are, right at this very moment, others literally fighting to survive, and it's this fighting spirit that creates unbelievable personalities and characters that will make exceptional things happen - sport is the portal that will provide these people with a stage to entertain a global audience, exactly as it has done with Kolisi.
As with any great historic event, this victory also provided us with stories within a story, and one of the most obvious facets is that Siya wore the iconic Springboks number 6 jersey.
Of course a very special man once used this number 6 shirt to unify a nation. That man was the great Nelson Mandela, and while wearing this shirt, in 1995 at Ellis Park, he presented the William Webb Ellis Trophy to the South African captain, and the man whose number that was, Francois Pienaar.
In that moment, Mandela sent out a message to his homeland and to the world - our country needs to be unified, and this sporting stage will serve as a platform where all, black and white, can come together in celebration of a great sporting victory.
Siya's story is one you could not write, a boy who endured great hardship, just as Mandela experienced, and as Mandela did, wearing the same shirt, he has brought his people together, yet again, through sport.
This hybrid of history only reinforces the message which many South African people need to hear and of course see - together, as a multi-cultural band of brothers, we have conquered the world, and together as a nation we can conquer life hardships and experience a better way of life.
Like many of you, I am a massive sporting fan, but I am also very aware of the challenges that many are experiencing across the world.
As an eternal optimist, I hope that many of these challenges can be overcome and conquered, and I see sport as an influencer in the process of change. Sport needs no language, no religion, no defined creed or colour - it's something we can all enjoy, and an experience that I believe can help in providing a solution to many of the world's troubles.