A suburb, short stature and a lot of faith: the story of Cheslin Kolbe, the new star of the ‘Springboks’

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“You are not too small to dream big, you can always achieve what you set your mind to.” The South African rugby player assured him Cheslin Kolbeone of the stars of the World Cup in France, to the fans of the Toulouse Stadium Gaul at his farewell. An ode to improvement rooted in his experience.

Poverty, teenagers addicted to drugs and violent fights between gangs still draw the landscape that Kolbe evokes when talking about his childhood in a suburb of Cape Town. He, he said, was lucky enough to enter a school outside the neighborhood, to experience a less hostile environment, to devote himself to football, athletics and rugby, which his father already practiced at the time of the apartheid.

To grow in the sport he had to break down another physical barrier. She is 1.71 meters tall and weighs 75 kilos. Among muscular super-athletes his size represents a holdover from pre-Lomu times when rugby allowed for short, lightweight wings.

Although Cheslin Kolbe’s vertiginous feet already dazzled at the 2013 U20 World Cup, he still did not escape the annoying tag that was very small for a team as intimidating as the Springboks. “I don’t think it’s a question of size if you have the right attitude,” he repeats in response to the recurring question. Her attitude, she usually responds, has always been to train more.

In March Kolbe left the pitch in tears during a match of the Top14, the French first division. While scoring a try he twisted his ankle, another mishap in a bad season. He found himself out of the World Cup. The injury, however, was not serious and in August he appeared smiling at the selection ceremony. An act vintage in which they wear green jackets with gold trim and kneel so that a cap with a tassel can be imposed on them.

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