First national cap at 21; first black goalkeeper to play for SA; the work ethic of an ox; and still managed to procure a degree in architecture. Everything he attempts, he bosses. In a country and sport that is difficult to break through especially when you are from Mthatha, Siya Nolutshungu has met and exceeded every expectation ever placed on him. Renny Man catches up with the ex-Maritzburg College pupil and South African phenomenon a week before he is set to represent the country at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.
Going back to high school…what brought you to hockey and what was inside you that made you want to play for South Africa?
When I got a scholarship to Maritzburg College and I knew that I had an opportunity to make something of myself as a hockey player. I believed that I could change myself as a person in the way I think. My mind-set.
Coming out of high school and entering into the unknown of University, what was your plan?
The plan was first and foremost to get a scholarship to the University of my choice. I made the decision to go to UKZN because of the degree that I wanted to study (architecture).
- 1st was to learn how to manage my time between studying and training.
- 2nd to maintain a discipline between balancing personal commitments, sport and academics.
- 3rd was to learn as much as I could from experiences, not wasting any opportunity to learn.
- 4th challenge myself as much as I could.
You studied architecture (which is arguably the most time-consuming degree), coached at various places, and played at an extremely high level…how did you manage this? Any regrets?
Sacrificing a lot of personal time. Basically socializing with the people that I was involved with, my class mates, teammates and people I coached with. Always maintaining a positive mind-set CONSISTENTLY. People tend to underrate consistency, it is one of the most crucial aspects of achieving greatness.
Now, you’re finally in the SA mens team. How is it there? What are your main struggles and what have you learnt so far?
It’s really tough as a goalkeeper because it is a specialist position as there are literally only two spots available. So I have to be top 2 at all times.
What I’ve learnt so far is how to work with various personalities. I believe there are 3 A’s: Adapt, adopt, assert.
How do you prepare for a big game? Nutrition, mentally, physically?
Nutrition: Day of, it depends on what time the match is. If it is an afternoon game I will have my normal breakfast, light lunch, and protein bar or banana straight before.
Physically: Routine warm up/stretch
Mentally: No superstitions. Mentally preparing myself on the way to the field, mainly visualizing myself playing (in different situations) and occasionally talking to myself.
SA Mens, what are your/their goals for the Commonwealth Games in Australia?
Personally: make a name for myself on a global scale
Team: due to us having appointed our men’s coach very late, and us not being able to have the preparations as the other teams competing had, it’s going to be very difficult to improve our 8th placed ranking at the CWG, but I believe that if we perform to the best of our abilities, we can improve on that.
Lastly. Who you listening to on your headphones?
Chance the Rapper, James Blake & Noname Gypsy. Nike.
I feel that we are brought up in society with so much negativity, that we end up limiting ourselves to what we are humanly capable of. When we step out of our cocoons we can then express ourselves by taking that negativity and turning it into positivity. Mind-set. Kendrick Lamar says it all on Mortal Man.