South Africans must give new Springbok captain Siya Kolisi the same respect they usually accord black sports stars from other parts of the world – without a fuss, SA Football Association president Danny Jordaan said.
Kolisi, who hails from Port Elizabeth, will captain the Boks in three tests against England this month.
Jordaan, himself Port Elizabeth-born, said South Africa’s first black skipper must be honoured in the same way that Brazil football legend Pele‚ tennis queen Serena Williams‚ Formula One ace Lewis Hamilton and many others are celebrated in South Africa.
“First of all, the striking thing is that everybody celebrated his [Kolisi’s] appointment and this nonsense about quota players and quota captain has not emerged because he is a starting lineup player‚” Jordaan said.
“I think that‚ particularly those of us who come from the Eastern Cape‚ would understand there is no need to refer to black players as quota players because some of the [black] players have been far greater than some others who have played in the Springboks, and were excluded simply on the basis of their skin colour.
“You talk about Peter Mkata – everybody will tell you that Peter Mkata was far greater or a better flyhalf than anyone in this country.
“And now that these players are given an opportunity to compete equally and play and eventually get into the team‚ they must carry a different label?”
Jordaan said South Africans still obsessed too much about skin colour and ended up attaching labels to athletes.
“We are the only country that has this obsession that the darker the skin, the less the intellectual capacity and the less the athletic ability – it is just not true‚” he said.
“We celebrate an Usain Bolt‚ we celebrate every other black athlete. We celebrate [Serena] Williams in tennis‚ Lewis Hamilton in motor racing‚ Jonah Lomu and all other players.
“Black athletes that we celebrate‚ the Peles we celebrate, but when it comes to South Africa and there is a great black athlete‚ we must find some other designation to label him or her.
“We must celebrate Kolisi as a captain and I am sure that not only has he got the ability as a player‚ but he also has leadership qualities. “He’s a leader,” Jordaan said.
The Boks host England in the first test at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday, followed by tests in Bloemfontein on June 16 and, finally, at Newlands in Cape Town on June 23.
The Boks were no great shakes under former coach Allister Coetzee, and Jordaan said it was significant that Kolisi was taking over at a low point in Bok rugby.
“It would be wonderful for this country if he [Kolisi] were to lead South African rugby into a Rugby World Cup and in a Rugby World Cup. So I want to wish him all the best and we are all proud of him.
“He has suffered his own bad experiences with the South African public‚ those who still have one foot in the past and another foot in the present.”