Golden Aussies: Talking all things Basketball with George & Seekamp

 Nicole Seekamp (L) & Cayla George (R)

Nicole Seekamp (L) & Cayla George (R)

The Australian women's basketball team, The Opals, took the Commonwealth Games by storm on Gold Coast and cruised through to win outright Gold. Planet Sport caught up with two of their key players, Connecticut Suns' Cayla George & Adelaide Lightning's Nicole Seekamp to talk about their international success, what the secret is and how much it means to compete on home soil:

"Its definitely special and exciting to play on the beautiful Gold Coast. To have an event like this in Australia is a once in a lifetime opportunity."

Listen to the full Planet Sport interview below:

Akani Simbine- On being the fastest man in the Commonwealth

 South Africa's Akani Simbine & Henricho Bruintjies

South Africa's Akani Simbine & Henricho Bruintjies

South Africa's Akani Simbine, is a rising star in world athletics and he took things to a new level with an eye-catching Gold medal run in the Commonwealth Games. In pipping the much-fancied Jamaican, Yohan Blake, he is officially the fastest man in the Commonwealth over 100m.

Planet Sport's Tom Ellis caught up with the Simbine and his fellow countryman, Henricho Bruintjies who clinched Silver on Gold Coast, Australia. 

Here's what they made of their one-two podium finish:

"Despite the injuries, God managed to bring me back"

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We spoke to Ugandan Rugby 7s star, Philip Wokorach while we were reporting on the Commonwealth Games in Australia. The 24-year-old carries much of the country's weight on his shoulders but you wouldn't know it. Tune in to Planet Sport and hear the outside centre speak on his setbacks, his ambitions and his faith in Jesus:

Merci Arsene: Arsenal's Chuba Akpom speaks to Planet Sport

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This week on Planet Sport, we speak to Arsenal prodigy Chuba Akpom as he comes to the end of his current loan spell with Sint-Truiden in Belgium. The 22-year-old tells us about his reaction to Arsene Wenger's departure, how he sees England fairing at the World Cup and what might come next for him now.

Listen to the full Planet Sport interview here:

We are looking for NEW TRUSTEES

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Here at PFS we are advertising for new Trustees to come on board and join the team! We are passionate about living out our mantra of 'using media to introduce sports fans to Jesus' and recognise the need to strengthen and expand our team.

If becoming a Trustee at Passion For Sport interests you, please click the button below which will take you to the advert in full and show you the criteria for application. 

We hope to hear from you soon:

Meet Zambia football starlet- Emmanuel Banda

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Emmanuel Banda is one of many highly-talented, young Zambian footballers coming through from U20 level, who has the potential to become one of the great African players. We caught up with the 20-year-old forward to talk about how he's got to where he is today in Belgium, his hope for the Zambia national team and also why his Christian faith is so important to him:

Emmanuel spoke with Planet Sport Football Africa's Liam Flint. . . 

On how he first got spotted in Zambia. . . "We played in a game that was live on Sky Sports and I would say that it was actually one of my best games in 2016. After the game I received a call from the man who is my manager now, from Mozambique, he said that he wanted to work with me and try to get me a move to Europe. We agreed terms and he took me to Portugal."

On playing his football in Belgium for Oostende. . . “Playing in Europe has really been a good thing for me, it’s helped me improve as a player in all aspects. I’ve learnt about new cultures of playing football, with the style of play in Belgium and we have all the resources at our disposal, any time we need them. That’s really good because it helps a player to improve much faster. Playing football at home in Zambia, resources are a bit limited and so I think almost every African player dreams of coming to play in top flight football.”

On how he handles the pressure and hype of people’s growing expectations. . . "At times you know that it is a motivating factor for you, when people are saying good things. On the other hand, it gives pressure because everyone is now expecting a lot from me. They want to see the best of me, so it keeps me moving and I make sure that I do my best every time that I am on the pitch. I should not disappoint the people back home."

On the secrets behind Zambia’s U20 World Cup run. . . "I would say hard work, hard work was one of the main reasons why we started and the commitment that each and every player had, we had a dream as a team of what we wanted to achieve at the World Cup. We would use that as our driving force and most importantly we committed our works to the Lord. We said that we could do everything through God and we managed to do it because God has never failed and he’s not going to today. We did our level best and He did the rest."

On which young talent in the Chipolopolo squad will become the next big star. . . "That’s a tricky question but from my team mates I would really fancy a lot of players, not single-handedly saying one player. Maybe four or five can actually make it into being top Zambian talents. I would say, Patson Daka, Fashion Sakala, Enock Mwepu, Kenneth Kalunga, these are some of the most exciting players that I have worked with. I’ve seen their commitment and how hard they work. I really feel that with the right attitude and with the right people around us, we can achieve great things."

On whether he can break into the senior Zambia side. . . "Yes, I would say that is my next target now. Some of my colleagues are already in the senior team, Patson, Fashion, they are now regular starters so that gives me a drive and the confidence, knowing that my friends are in the team. I can also do it, I can also do the same."

 

On his big club and ultimate ambition in football. . . "The club that I would like to play for, I have two, is Borussia Dortmund and for Arsenal. I would really like to play in the English Premier League or in the Bundesliga, I love their play and their play is similar to Barcelona. I believe that is my type of football, so for now I have ambitions of reaching the quarter or semi-finals of the Europa League. I want to go all the way."

On where his faith in Jesus comes from. . . "It was in 2012, I remember the day, I was 12 and it was the December. So it was 12, 12, 12. We had gone to Zimbabwe with my academy team and then before the tournament ended we had a church service. The pastor was preaching and I decided to give my life to Christ. After that, things started moving in a way that I did not expect, I would go for trials but bigger teams would enquire about me and say to come and train with us. The way was made for me and that was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life, to accept Christ."

On why he’s been given the footballing ability that he has. . . "I believe it’s a talent that God has given me, I really love the sport and enjoy doing what I do. The best that I can do is just to work extra hard every day, that’s the only thing that I can give back. I say thank you to the Lord for giving me such a talent."

Freebie Friday: Win Pierre Spies' SIGNED RUGBY BOOTS!

 FREEBIE FRIDAY GIVEAWAY

FREEBIE FRIDAY GIVEAWAY

We are in the middle of our 'Freebie Friday' competition, where we are giving away a signed pair of boots from Rugby pro and former Springbok number 8, Pierre Spies!

Head over to Instagram to see further details and find out how you can enter to be in with a chance of winning! 

A winner will be announced this coming Friday, 11 March. So time is running out, enter now!

"Stay humble, stay focused and everything else will fall into place"

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Catch our interview with USA National team defender, Matt Miazga who talks to us about his sharp rise through Major League Soccer, his life-changing move to English giants Chelsea, and how his faith in Jesus keeps him humble. 

The 22-year-old American has had quite a ride in the early part of his promising football career, first spotted at New York Red Bulls, Miazga has continued to develop impressively, even to the point where at the time, English Champions Chelsea had to get in on it. Since his big move to the Premier League, the young centre-back has had to graft and now finds himself out on loan. Listen below to hear about his goals and aims moving forward on Planet Sport Radio:

When you win the AFCON at 23, where do you go next?

 Cameroon's Collins Fai

Cameroon's Collins Fai

Cameroon defender Collins Fai, now at the age of 25 can already say that he has won one of the most highly sought after trophies as an African footballer. . . the Africa Cup of Nations. 

We caught up with the right-back, who plays his football in Belgium with Standard Liege, to talk about what other aspirations he has moving forward and how his Christian faith is still the most important thing in his life.

Collins Fai speaking on:

How Cameroon managed to win the AFCON. . ."For us the objective was just to get through the first stage of the tournament. For a very long time Cameroon didn't even get through the group stage so we didn't have that one player or star, for about 60% of us that was our first major tournament. From the beginning we didn't think about winning the cup, until after we beat Senegal and then we said that we could do this. let's just go and have fun. It's just a blessing because we didn't have a team that could compete for the trophy."

What his next, big dream is now. . . "For the national team, I hope and I wish that we can win the next AFCON because it is in Cameroon and for the country because we are hosting it. Then I think the next dream for me in the national team is to get to the World Cup."

Which African teams will go the furthest at this summer's World Cup. . ."I think all of the five teams are already capable to do something but if I have to pick, I choose Nigeria. I played against Nigeria and I believe that they have a very good team. They can definitely do something."

Why his Christian faith is so important. . . "The way that I got to Europe and the way that I started to play in professional football, it's a story of the more that I go forward, the more reasons I see for why some things happen. I don't merit all of these things but I have them and I believe that it's the will of God for me."

To listen to the full interview, see below:

Kombo Bere: "The bigger goal is to go to the Olympics and one day win the world champ jerseys"

 Kombo Bere- Zimbabwean national athlete

Kombo Bere- Zimbabwean national athlete

Mountain Biking sensation, Kombo Bere took time out of his busy trail schedule to talk to us at Planet Sport about his career, his motivation to make the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and also how he sees riding as a platform to showcase his God-given talent.

As the Zimbabwean national champ, Kombo is now based in South Africa where he races for Team Pyga Euro Steel. 

Listen to the full Planet Sport interview below:

Peace and lawn bowls

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Our latest Planet Sport programme comes from the Gold Coast again, where our reporters Tom Ellis and Liam Flint are busy gathering content from the Commonwealth Games. They take a visit to Southport Bowls Club, the oldest bowls club on the Coast, to experience the related sports of lawn bowls and barefoot bowls. Club member Adriaan puts them through their paces, as they take to the lawn alongside Team England, who were preparing for their upcoming competition.

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Also on the show, we hear from captain of the Ugandan netball team Peace Proscovia (right) to find out about her career, faith as a follower of Jesus Christ and mission to encourage girls in Uganda into the sport of netball.

 

You can listen to the show here:

Aussies and the Games: How much does it mean?

 Nicole Seekamp (L) and Cayla George (R)- Australia Basketball

Nicole Seekamp (L) and Cayla George (R)- Australia Basketball

By Liam Flint

Being on the Gold Coast, we wanted to grab some home-athlete perspective and so caught up with Cayla George and Nicole Seekamp from the Women's Basketball team, who are romping through the tournament so far and favourites to win Gold! 

I asked them how much the home support and opportunity to play in the Aussie backyard was a factor in how well they were doing:

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"It's definitely special, it helped us get motivated and we've had some pretty decent wins. It certainly helps having a great crowd. We aim to go out there and jut play and it seems to work out for us, we've got a really good team and a lot of depth."

When asked about what motivates them and where their success comes from, they were both quick to point to their personal faith in Jesus:

Cayla: "I'm not here without God, first and foremost, he has blessed me with the talent and he's blessed me with this platform. So why not use it to shine his light?"

Nicole: "At the end of the day I believe that God has got a plan for all of us and he's leading me down a path."

Both players will be eager to secure Gold for their country and, so far, the stats suggest that they are favourites to do just that!

Stay tuned to upcoming episodes of Planet Sport for full coverage of our interview with George & Seekamp!

Meet the fastest man in the Commonwealth

 Team South Africa 'medal winners' Press Conference

Team South Africa 'medal winners' Press Conference

By Liam Flint

Over the past few days Tom and I have been investing a lot of time into securing interviews which will give exclusive access and content to our listeners from around the Commonwealth.

We have seen a real flurry of openings and have had the opportunity to interview some of the biggest names at these Games, about their medal-winning performances and their faith in Jesus.

 100m Gold Medalist- Akani Simbine

100m Gold Medalist- Akani Simbine

South Africa's Akani Simbine, is officially the fastest man in the Commonwealth, after pipping the much-fancied Yohan Blake (Jamaica) to the Gold medal. We managed to catch up with Akani the day after his triumph to get some fresh reaction and his thoughts on his huge achievement.

He spoke honestly and openly about how the result, in his eyes, was no surprise and that he always knew he was capable of the Gold. Very early on he stated that it was through his faith in Jesus, that he was given this success and he is passionate about 'shining his light' to others around the world. He was humble in victory and even has the word 'faith' tatooed on his arm.

 Ugandan Rugby star- Philip Wokorach

Ugandan Rugby star- Philip Wokorach

Our most recent interview was with Uganda Rugby Sevens star, Philip Wokorach, a man who is highly regarded in the world game as a world-class talent. We spoke to Philip about how much it means for the country of Uganda to be at the Commonwealth Games. This is a man who has come back to the top of his sport, twice after breaking his leg and he gave all the credit to Jesus, quoting his favourite bible verse as Philippians 4:13. We look forward to watching him as the Rugby Sevens finally gets going over the next few days!

Volleyball & Vision FM vibes

 Beach Volleyball- Coolangatta

Beach Volleyball- Coolangatta

By Liam Flint

 Vision FM

Vision FM

Yesterday we traveled further down the Gold Coast, towards Coolangatta, known for being the home of Beach Volleyball at this Commonwealth Games. This sand-filled sport is making its Games debut and there aren't many better spots around the globe to accommodate for the beach location, the surf and the party atmosphere. Beach Volleyball has a unique atmosphere which sets it apart from other venues and sports, it's a constant feed of music, exhilarating back and forth rallies and crowd participation. All fans who attend a game are expected to get up out of their seats and make some noise, from Mexican waves to 'kiss cam', they will get you!

 Robbo and our first Koala sighting

Robbo and our first Koala sighting

This morning was an early start, as we paid Vision FM a visit, to feature on their Rise and Shine Breakfast show. This was a great opportunity to share about what we are doing over on the Gold Coast and also educate listeners on the Passion For Sport mantra. Hosted by Andrew Robinson aka 'Robbo', a friend of Passion For Sport, we had a great time discussing our Australian experience and even played a quintessentially British game based on Cheese Rolling! Oh the stereotypes! 

 'Robbo and Friends' game segment

'Robbo and Friends' game segment

 

In return we tried to educate Robbo and his audience on the game of 'Conkers' but seeing as there aren't any Horse Chestnut trees in Australia, that was wasted on them. We were then put through our paces in a variation of Cheese Rolling, using 'Cheezels', an Aussie snack. Tom and I had to blow/roll our Cheezel from one end of a table to another and place it in a cup for victory. Long story short, we let England down and slumped to defeat.

 

Day 4: Patience is a virtue

 Jereem 'The Dream' Richards- Trinidad & Tobago

Jereem 'The Dream' Richards- Trinidad & Tobago

As we enter Day 4, it seems unbelievable that we are half way through our trip to the Gold Coast. Time has flown and now that the medals are being dished out thick and fast, the battle of Australia vs England to end up on top of the table is hotting up. 

To this point, we've patiently been waiting for the Games to kick off, for interviews to come through and for our work to take shape. We are now building momentum and seeing some great opportunities present themselves, in the shape of great athlete stories, testimonies and networking with other organisations. 

Our preparation which started a week before the Games began is now bearing fruit and we are very encouraged with what we are able to produce, our shows will hopefully be testament to that!

Aussie swimmer Dan Smith: 'I needed a miracle'

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This week's Planet Sport comes from the Gold Coast, Australia, and the 21st edition of the Commonwealth Games! We hear from locals and sports fans about what the Games brings to the Gold Coast and Planet Sport's Tom Ellis and Liam Flint report on the unfolding spectacular event from the beach at Surfers Paradise. And we catch up with Australian Olympic swimmer, Dan Smith, as he tells us his remarkable story about how he rediscovered his love for swimming after losing everything. Listen to the story of how he went from young swimming sensation, to a life of crime, homelessness and addiction, before finding his faith and competing at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio:

Day 3: Australia start strongly & so do we

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By Liam Flint

The last couple of days have seen a sharp rise in activity on the Gold Coast, transport has been maxed out as ticket-holders look to reach venues and the tourist hotspots. Australia's strong start, especially in the pool, has given locals an air of excitement and truly ignited the underlying passion that everyone is feeling towards the Games.

The carnival and festival scene has also really kicked off along the coast, supplying beach-goers on Surfers Paradise with 'voices from the commonwealth' every evening. 

 Njiel Amos- Botswana

Njiel Amos- Botswana

We have done a lot of travelling, up and down the Gold Coast tram link, in our attempts to be in the best spot at the right time. We have been capturing features for our Planet Sport show, soaking up the atmosphere and busily arranging interviews with athletes from around the Commonwealth.

We spoke to Botswana runner Nijel Amos, the Commonwealth Games reigning champion over 800m. He is always a great character and he has a real zest for life, he is always more than happy to talk about his faith, what it means to him and how much God is his motivation for being the best.

 Charl Du Toit- South Africa

Charl Du Toit- South Africa

The Para events are being run alongside the Commonwealth Games schedule at this Games, which is a big step in the right direction for equal coverage and Games reputation. On this note, we spoke to South African runner in the T37 category, Charl Du Toit about this shift in how things are done. He was excited to be in and around the entire Team South Africa and fancies his chances at a medal. He did stress that he wasn't looking as high as Gold though! 

The Games have begun!

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By Liam Flint

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We were fortunate enough to attend the opening ceremony at the iconic Carrara Stadium, home to the Gold Coast Suns AFL team. It was a spectacle packed with colour, world-class choreography and a detailed history of what it is to be Australian. The 35,000 capacity arena was sold out, the spectators made themselves heard and even though rain threatened to derail the start of the live coverage, it did not dampen any spirits. 

The pace of the evening kept everyone on the edge of their seats and there was no moment for anyone to catch their breath, from singing, to dancing, to tributes and interview there was always something interesting going on.

Perhaps one of the most-loved elements of any opening ceremony is when the competing athletes parade around the track under their country's flag. It was fascinating to see some of the smaller nations and territories that had come to the Games to compete for those 275 Gold medals. Unsurprisingly Team Australia stole the show with their record turnout of 473 athletes. Team England weren't too far behind but the passionate crowd roared their local heroes all of the way round. 

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To top the evening off, the Games were officially declared open by the Prince of Wales, representing the Queen, the head of the Commonwealth.

Now into Day 2 of these Games, we have already seen some great stories developing and some surprises, thrown in with some shocks. From a Team England viewpoint, the two Brownlee brothers missing out on medals in the Triathlon was a nightmare start but currently they are sitting pretty at the top of the medal table.

Long may it continue!

Happy Easter from Gold Coast

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Our media producers Tom Ellis and Liam Flint have arrived on the Gold Coast, Australia, ready to report on the 2018 Commonwealth Games. From 4-15 April, over 6,600 athletes and team officials from 70 nations and territories will gather for 11 days of world class sporting action across 18 sports.

"One word to describe arriving in the Gold Coast is contrast! Our reward for powering through a long twenty-hour flight was the heat that greeted us, a welcome break from the threat of cold and snow in the UK! There is a real buzz around the Gold Coast as everyone prepares to welcome athletes from around the Commonwealth. Our Australian education has already begun, in the form of an Australian Football league (AFL) game at the Gabba, still no idea what was going on. As teams and fans steadily stream into this idyllic setting, we are eagerly anticipating the start of the Games and hearing some powerful athlete stories!" Liam Flint   

"With temperatures pushing 30 degrees and 70km of coastline, the Gold Coast makes for a warm welcome following the recent 'Beast from the East’ snow storm we experienced in Britain. We spent our first day in Queensland testing out the newly installed tramline, top-notch media facilities, and yes we did make it down onto the beach, just for a little look! On our first evening we drove an hour or so up the road to the Gabba in Brisbane for a real taste of Oz – an AFL game between Brisbane Lions and Melbourne Demons. No mention of ball tampering this time around though.

I've already noticed the Church seems to have a strong presence on the Gold Coast, and we look forward to joining 3000 people at an Easter celebration organised by Beyond Gold - a partnership between local churches to serve and love the city during the Games. A wonderful statment of unity we can only hope to see spill over into the next couple of weeks!" Tom Ellis