We can cut to the chase. South Africa’s Hockey Men had a tough Commonwealth Games. The non-hockey following community may feel somewhat judgemental, but Mark Hopkins side showed us the offsprings of hope that comes with a change in season. There is definitely a spark of life in the squad if you watched close enough and for me, that is quite exciting. And while there may be a few reasons for my optimism, I would like to point out one this week. Siya Nolutshungu.
Siya was our second choice keeper at the Commonwealth Games behind Gowan Jones but strikes me as absolute epitome of what I see as Proudly South African. In this week where he graduated as an architect from university, it’s also a week where he has graduated from talented youngster to serious contender for the number 1 spot.
If you get an opportunity to speak to Siya, you are immediately met by a young man with a humble head on his shoulders and a future that is incredibly bright. He may be short in size, but the man is fast becoming a giant in stature. Siya, who clearly works incredibly hard off the field, was always willing to bide his time and wait for his opportunity while being the number one supporter of the team when not in action.
It’s no coincidence that his finest game of the tournament was also South Africa’s finest performance. In the group stage game against Canada, punctuated by a heavily debated (on social media at least) disallowed goal for South Africa, Siya was called into action on seven different occasions producing saves of a seasoned veteran. Somehow the smaller form of the KZN Raiders goalkeeper was able to fill the goal immensely and deny everything that Canada threw at him.
You are a champion my guy!!!! @siya111 🇿🇦🏆🏑
— Harold Siyaya (@HAROLEGEND) April 11, 2018
There was a save from Canadian striker Sukhi Panesar, which was particularly catching on the eye, that earned Nolutshungu praise from those watching. For a man who had spent much time on the bench, the ability to get up to speed with the tournament immediately and make saves in such a convincing style quickly spread confidence to the defenders around him.
Siya has a bible scripture posted on his helmet. Its Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” It feels like the plans for Siya are nothing short of massive and it feels like something special is brewing.