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A black Bok captain is a good start but more must be done‚ says first black Springbok

29 May 2018 - 09:00 By Mahlatse Mphahlele
Siya Kolisi. File photo.
Siya Kolisi. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images

Kaya Malotana‚ the first black African to play for the Springboks‚ has warned against over-celebrating Siya Kolisi’s appointment as national rugby team captain and forgetting that there was still a very long way to go in addressing transformation in the country.

Malotana played his only match for the Springboks against Spain during the 1999 Rugby World Cup at Murrayfield‚ where the South Africans won 47-3 against the European minnows.

Nick Mallett was coach and Andre Vos captain. Current coach Rassie Erasmus confirmed on Monday that Kolisi would become the first black African to captain the Springboks when he heads onto the pitch to face England in the first of three Tests at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on June 9.

“I am just hopeful that we are not going to be stuck in celebrating Siya as the first black Springbok captain and forget that we still have a serious transformation agenda that we must fast-track in this country‚” Malotana said‚ adding that the move was long overdue.

“I am excited for Siya but for me it is long overdue and I think that he has been frustrated at not being given the opportunity. ‘‘Being the first Springbok captain is a great milestone but it is disappointing that in 2018 we are still talking about a black Springbok captain. Opportunities have been there to do it in the past and they were never used‚” he said.

And it was exactly this long wait to have a black Bok captain that proved how far the country still needed to go in terms of transformation.

“The only reason that we are only celebrating the first Springbok captain in 2018 is exactly because the transformation agenda has not been made a priority by the powers that be.

‘‘One will hope that South Africa will use this opportunity to bring this issue of transformation back on the table and in the spotlight so that all the children who are playing this sport are on an equal footing‚” he said. Malotana added that SA Rugby must use Kolisi to market the sport at schools around the country through sustainable programs.

“I just hope that we will be able to use him properly and market the game in schools instead of the issue of making an appearance and things are forgotten afterwards‚” he said. ‘‘I hope that the powers that be will structure programs that could be long-lasting.”

It was an ideal opportunity‚ he added. “This move will excite black Africans in the country because there are a lot of children now who are going to find new purpose on why they want to play this game. Children from where he comes from and elsewhere are going to find new purpose. So it is great in terms of finding a new path. It is great in terms of pushing participation schoolboy level‚ said Malotana.