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Getting to Know: Siya Nolutshungu

Goalkeeper Siya Nolutshungu has just been named as a travelling reserve in South Africa’s Olympic men’s hockey squad, but he also juggles his playing commitments with his Client Services Manager position at Nielsen Sports South Africa. Here’s how he does that.

Q: As Client Services Manager, what do you regard as your primary focus and areas of responsibility?
A: My primary focus and areas of responsibility are to ensure that the client is looked after and well informed, and I need to make sure I create a sustainable relationship with our rights-holders.

Q: How do you juggle the job and your hockey commitments?
A: It’s something I’ve been training myself to do since high school, where I was involved in multiple extra-mural activities. I’ve taken those time management skills and implemented them both at university and now in my work space.

Q: What about your other commitments, like your goalkeeping coaching business?
A: I’m still building my business interests, but slowly, due to my hockey commitments and my position at Nielsen Sports South Africa. I do, though, make sure I dedicate at least four hours a week to growing and building them, regardless of how slow that might be. Watch this space!

Q: What have you learnt in the world of professional – or semi-pro – sport that you feel can be transferred to the corporate world?
A: There are so many character building traits that can be taken into the corporate space, such as working under pressure, team work, problem solving, relationship management, and many other things that have the ability to improve your work space. One of the things I’ve picked up in both spaces is that you need to work hard, particularly when no-one is looking.

Q: You have a Bachelor of Architectural Studies degree – any plans to ever use this qualification?
A: Yes, definitely. I will be using it when I expand my business in the near future. I currently have a couple projects in various stages of development with some close associates.

Q: What are your thoughts on you and your national team-mates having to raise your own money to afford the trip to this year’s Olympics?
A: It’s something that we cannot control as athletes, but what we can control is how we play on the field. If we create an attractive brand for ourselves, we have the opportunity to show investors that we’re an outfit that can bring them a return on investment.

Q: Why do you believe more corporate sponsors or brands have not got behind the national hockey team, from a sponsorship point of view?
A: We need to understand how sports sponsorship works. The ability to market and not undersell our product (us) is where I feel that there is room for improvement.

Q: Are you currently working from home or the office, and how have you adapted to the change in work routine?
A: I’m currently working from home and I’ve adapted quite easily. I have benefitted immensely, because I’m able to be hands-on with important things in my household and I feel more productive in this space. The travelling does eventually add up. 

Q: What does your daily routine look like? Early mornings or late nights?
A: Hockey planner – three gym sessions a week, two hockey training sessions a week, one game a week, and one recovery session a week.
Personal planner – 04h40 gym; 06h00 goalkeeping coaching; 08h00-17h00 Nielsen Sports SA; 19h00-21h00 Crusaders Club hockey training; 22h00-23h00 company work or studying; 23h00-24h00 personal time.

Q: How do you cope with stress and how do you unwind?
A: Spending quality time with family or friends on the weekend – the odd lazy weekend where I do absolutely nothing. 

Q: What do you view as the biggest impact of Covid-19 on the way sport is run, consumed, commercialised etc?
A: It has levelled the playing field for all sporting codes. It’s time for all codes to get innovative, as per how they can solve issues. Sponsors are now keeping tabs on where the real return on investment lies. Athletes have an opportunity to now evaluate their worth, because we ourselves are our own brands, independent of our club and country.

Dylan Rogers
Dylan Rogers

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