Founder Shawn ‘Jay-Z’ Carter’s love of sports led to the natural formation of Roc Nation Sports and Roc Nation Sports International, supporting athletes in the same way Roc Nation had been working alongside and advocating for artists in the music industry for years.
Roc Nation Sports International focuses on elevating athletes’ career on a global scale both on and off the field. Roc Nation Sports International conceptualises and executes marketing and endorsement deals, community outreach, charitable tie-ins, media relations and brand strategy.
In an official statement, the company said that “only in South Africa could a captaincy have the power to change the nation around it”.
There was power in a squad made up of different backgrounds and races coming together to reach one goal, and Kolisi embraced his position as a privilege rather than a responsibility or burden.
“Kolisi represents generations of black players who were never offered the same opportunities purely on the basis of South African laws. Stepping on to the pitch in Yokohama, Japan, he was living the dream for those who weren’t given the same opportunities as him. The impact of that captaincy was far greater than anything he could achieve with a ball on the pitch.
South African rugby, up until that point, had represented nuances of a complicated nation but in the words of Kolisi, “We can achieve anything when we work together as one,” dedicating the World Cup win to “all South Africans”, said Roc Nation.
“Siya Kolisi is the new modern face of Africa, with a voice to unite a nation, who offers a new pathway for many.
“Away from the pitch, Siya Kolisi’s life story has captivated the world. Born to teenage parents, the 28-year-old Stormers and Western Province flanker was born in the impoverished township of Zwide, just outside of Port Elizabeth on the Eastern Cape, and was raised by his grandmother. He slept on a bed of cushions on the living room floor throughout his childhood, and talking post-World Cup win Kolisi said, ‘I never dreamt of a day like this at all. When I was a kid all I was thinking about was getting my next meal.’
“Kolisi’s rugby was nurtured on dirt fields and trials were conducted in boxer shorts, due to the lack of finance available to purchase a full strip. At 12 years old, he was spotted by Grey School and offered a full scholarship, offering him not only a platform to play a sport he loved but an education that would serve him greatly throughout his life.
“Losing his grandmother and his mother within the space of six years, a 16-year-old Kolisi watched John Smit lift the Rugby World Cup trophy from his township tavern (there was no television at home) and realised that rugby could be an escape from the life he was currently living.
“Today, Kolisi stands as not only a Rugby World Cup champion, but a BBC ‘Sports Star of the Year’ nominee and one of New African’s ‘Most Influential Africans’ – achievements that demonstrate the impact of his journey outside of sport. A son of the soil and icon of substance, Kolisi epitomes a new face – the challenges and adversities he has faced over the last 28 years reflect the growing pain that South Africa has encountered and yet he continues to rise above them, creating hope for multiple generations.
“The first Rugby Union addition, Kolisi joins a Roc Nation Sports International family that consists of Jérôme Boateng (Bayern Munich), Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) Eric Bailly (Manchester United), Axel Witsel (Borussia Dortmund), Reece James (Chelsea FC), Lauren James (Manchester United) and Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC).
Michael Yormark, President of Roc Nation Sports International, said “Siya Kolisi joins the Roc Nation Sports International family as an iconic unifying figure, who has faced adversity and come through it as a role model to many, not only in Africa but around the world. A real talent of substance, we are thrilled to support Siya in his career moving forward.”
Siya Kolisi said: “I’m overjoyed to be joining the Roc Nation family, and to be the first South African to do so is a special feeling. The team is very much an extension of my own family, they have been extremely welcoming and passionate about my story and my journey. It’s the perfect partnership and I’m excited to get started.”