Golden Lions lock MB Lusaseni has retired from professional rugby to focus on his new business venture Sanzala – his own brand of premium craft beer.
After 10 years of professional rugby, which saw MB Lusaseni represent the Sharks, Griquas, Leopards and Lions, the 27-year-old has decided to drop the oval ball to chase his new passion for craft beer on a full-time basis.
It wasn’t an easy decision, explained the East London local, but he believes this change has come at the right time.
“I’ve been very passionate about rugby for most of my life,” Lusaseni told MyPlayers. “I’ve had the opportunity to enter other business opportunities for a while, but they always came second because of my rugby commitments. After some thinking, I decided that it was time that I put rugby on the backseat and make my new passion my main focus.”
The opportunity to start Sanzala was born in March this year after Lusaseni and a friend were focused on plans to build a brand around lifestyle. After starting a partnership with a brewing company, he explains that the choice of craft beer was a no-brainer.
“If you think about it, many people of all backgrounds turn to beer in many situations. Whether you’re rich or not, whether you’re celebrating, happy or sad… beer is often the popular choice,” said Lusaseni.
“Our aim to introduce quality craft beer to the masses. I believe craft beer is only enjoyed by a small market at the moment for a few reasons. The average price for craft beer is quite expensive, while many people don’t know much about the product.
“Sanzala aims to offer consumers quality craft beer at a more affordable price. We will also be educating people about our craft beer. We want to take it to areas like Soweto, Eastern Cape and Free State. So far, the response has been amazing.”
So what does “Sanzala” stand for?
“It’s a word we used when we were younger. It relates to the term ‘the way of life’. Our craft beer is the way of life,” said Lusaseni. “With Sanzala, we want to take everyone’s emotions, dreams and aspirations and embottle them all in a brew that you can enjoy.
“We currently have two types of beer in the Sanzala range. We have the Sanzala Lager, which is smooth and crisp with a blend of citrus for a refreshing aftertaste. We also have the Sanzala Pale Ale, which is a smooth craft beer brew. You can expect more exciting additions in December.”
Sanzala will be on display at the first-ever Soweto Beer Festival, which runs from 25 to 27 November at Shap Stadium in Mofolo Park.
Although it’s still early days for Lusaseni and his new business venture, he’s excited about the exciting prospects and challenges that lie ahead. He encourages all professional players to follow their passions when they start life after rugby.
“Just because most players end up working 9 to 5 after rugby, doesn’t mean that’s the only option,” said Lusaseni. “You have to take time to discover your passion, which will help you determine what you actually want to do for the rest of your life. You have to find a passion that matches the love you have for rugby. Otherwise, you won’t enjoy what you do next.”
While Lusaseni will be fully focused on his new chapter, he added that he will be backing his former team-mates at the Lions next season.
“With an ice cold Sanzala in hand, of course!” he said with a laugh.
By Gareth Duncan