A San Francisco special: The Rugby World Cup Sevens

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Next week sees the Rugby Sevens world converge on San Francisco for the World Cup, we caught up with Blitzboks' Branco Du Preez and Seabelo Senatla ahead of their involvement at the tournament.

Planet Sport's Norman Brierley spoke to the pair to find out what it means to be a part of this South Africa team and see how their preparations are coming along.

Listen to the full Planet Sport interview below:

"I'm a human being first and then an athlete second"

 South Africa v New Zealand (Commonwealth Games 2018)

South Africa v New Zealand (Commonwealth Games 2018)

Keenan Horne plays for South Africa's Hockey team. At 26, he has broken into the national side and featured in their recent tournament at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year.

Planet Sport's Liam Flint spoke to the man himself, on Gold Coast, Australia, in amongst the busy competition schedule, to find out more about the number 10 and see what has propelled him to the top of the sport:

Listen to the full Planet Sport interview with Keenan below:

"They told me that I had small calf muscles, so I couldn't kick a ball"

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Meet Willy Ambaka, Kenya Rugby's star man in the sevens format. The 28-year-old winger has made over 30 appearances and notched 325 points for the Shujaa National Team and is a central figure in their HSBC Sevens Series campaign.

Planet Sport's Norman Brierley spoke to the man himself, at the HSBC Sevens meet at Twickenham, London, about where his love for Rugby came from and his hopes for Kenya as a rugby nation:

Listen to the full Planet Sport interview with Willy below:

Charl Du Toit: South African Double Paralympic & World Champion

 Charl Du Toit with Planet Sport's Tom Ellis

Charl Du Toit with Planet Sport's Tom Ellis

South African Charl Du Toit  is a reigning double World and Paralympic sprint champion.  Competing in the T37 class for athletes with Cerebral Palsy.

He won gold at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio in the 100m and 400m, before sitting a new world record for the T37 100m of 11.35 seconds at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia!

Planet Sport's Tom Ellis caught up with Charl at the Commonwealth Games in April to find out more about this exceptional athlete and his life, career and faith:

Listen to the full Planet Sport interview with Charl below:

"Women's football has always been brilliant, it's just had a lack of exposure"

 Photo credit- Mark Thor

Photo credit- Mark Thor

Planet Sport recently caught up with Orlando Pride striker Chioma Ubogagu to get her take on the health of the women's game around the world, what it means to have a choice of three nationalities and why she recommends that all young players 'seek failure'.

Listen to the full Planet Sport interview with Chioma below:

Ronald Levy on winning Gold, the power of prayer and listening to his mother

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Jamaica have long been known for producing world-class athletes, one of the current generation is Ronald Levy. The 25-year-old Hurdler came home with Gold from the Commonwealth Games, with his fellow-countryman Hansel Parchment, taking Silver. 

Planet Sport caught up with the champion to reflect on what it means to be the best and to pick his brains on how to bounce back from life's challenges.

Listen to the full Planet Sport interview with Ronald below:

Looking ahead with Wallabies forward Scott Sio

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26-year-old Scott Sio plays for Australian Super Rugby side, Brumbies, and has also been capped by the Wallabies 43 times to date.

The world-class forward took time out to chat to Planet Sport, about following in the sporting footsteps of his father, what it means to pull on the green and gold and how his faith in God helps him in life. 

Listen to the full Planet Sport interview with Scott below:

"I was told that I would never walk again"- Jarryd Wallace

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In interview with USA's Paralympic sprinter, Jarryd Wallace. . .

Speaking to Planet Sport on:

The ultimate career ambition. . . "A Paralympic medal would be nice, I've been fortunate enough to win a gold in every level of competition besides the Paralympics, so I've got eyes on Tokyo 2020. But It's not forever and when the Lord says I'm done, I'm done and I'll go through the next door that he opens." 

The message he's trying to display through his athletics. . . "I think the biggest thing as an athlete and a believer is consistency, how we respond to the outcome of a race or how we respond in victory. Also having the opportunities to build and cultivate relationships with fans and room with athletes, it's a great basis to share my faith."

How much his faith impacts his athletic performance . . ."It's a huge part of it, the reality of it is that seven years ago I was told that I would never walk again and had my leg amputated. I had the dream not just to walk, but to run at the highest level and so every day that I get to run is a gift and a blessing. That's what keeps me motivated."

What difference his faith makes to his life outlook. . . "It makes both winning and losing just easier and there is no pressure. Obviously it's fun to win races and it's fun to run fast but at the end of the day I'm not defined by one race or one time. It gives me freedom to enjoy the sport and enjoy the competition, some days it comes together and when it doesn't, that's just part of it."

 

 

Getting through the ups and downs. . ."My highs aren't too high and my lows aren't too low. I just maintain purpose, focus and I think my plateau is higher than most which is exciting."

The pattern of Christian athletes in USA Track & Field. . ."It's been really cool to watch my generation stepping out and being bold in their faith. You look at the world and society that we live in and it's based on performance or who can get what. It's a lot about take and not a lot about give but if you look at the gospel, it's our job to love and serve others. The attitude and the basis of faith for us as athletes is a huge part of us finding joy, regardless of the outcome."

"It is God that makes me a better footballer"- Christian Atsu

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On this week's Planet Sport Football Africa, we catch up with current Newcastle United winger, Christian Atsu. After a good end to this year's Premier League Campaign, the 26-year-old tells us about where he currently sees Ghanaian football, his future ambitions on the pitch, and what he makes of Rafa Benitez!

Listen to the full Planet Sport interview below:

Racing against your roommate- Meet Dyan Buis & Charl Du Toit

 Dyan Buis (L) with Charl Du Toit (R)

Dyan Buis (L) with Charl Du Toit (R)

Dyan Buis and Charl Du Toit are the epitome of a competitive friendship, the two South African Para athletes, both medaled at this year's Commonwealth Games, running in the same T38 category event. Fierce competitors on the track, they also share a deep friendship off it, where they share a common love for their sport and their faith in Jesus. 

Planet Sport's Tom Ellis caught up with the pair, before and after their medal-winning exploits to talk about what it means to represent their country together and how the focus on para-athletes is growing. 

Listen to the full Planet Sport interview below:

"I have had so many miracles in my life"

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South African Rugby pro Tera Mtembu, spoke to Planet Sport about his Super Rugby career with the Sharks, his love for Liverpool FC and what the future holds for him in the game.

Tera speaking on:

What he expects from 2018 . ."Firstly, I am focused on what God wants for me. Every professional athlete goes through ups and downs but what God wants for me is what I am going to achieve. I will take and control what I can control which is keeping my faith strong."

Representing South Africa. . . "They are memories that I will never forget, I remember playing my first taste of senior rugby and it was definitely a highlight of my career so far. It's something that you can't really explain and I appreciate it more now that I did back then. It was a surreal experience and I'm really grateful."

His drive to still play international rugby. . ."Yes it definitely is, in the situation that I am in now, not many people are giving me a chance which is fine. Since I was young I've always tried to overcome adversity, and ever since I've had the Lord in my life somehow I have proven people wrong. It definitely still is the ultimate but if it doesn't happen then it's not the end of the world. I will never stop working hard and believing."

Adapting from rugby Sevens to Fifteens. . ."It's easier playing sevens and then transitioning to fifteens than the other way round. For me it came at the perfect time, when you go to sevens you sharpen up, you have to be accurate in sevens with your passing and you get drilled. It triggered my rugby to where I am now."

His love for Liverpool football club. . . "Back in 2008 a friend of mine used to talk about Liverpool all the time! The game where they beat AC Milan in the Champions league final, he talked about that game for the whole year.  So I started to watch soccer and ended up supporting Liverpool."

Why his Christian faith so important. . . "Because I've had so many miracles in my life. I made a conscious decision to start reading the bible in 2008. I was fortunate to play first team rugby at school for four years, the first two years I played but was pretty average. So at the end of 2007 I needed change in my life, I had been working hard but just wasn't growing. So in January 2008 I just decided to open a bible to just be there with God and hear what he had to say. I started praying each and every day and it's amazing how my life turned, on and off the field. Ever since then, I've had the Lord close to my heart. I've achieved things that I would never have imagined just because of my faith. It's been a tough road but I will just follow His lead and do what He wants me to do."

How that faith changes how he sees sport. . ."I am going on the field and he takes over my body, he is driving the steering wheel. I don't set myself personal goals anymore, I just pray to the Lord and thank Him for the opportunity to do what I love on the stage that I'm on."

Being himself, in the rugby culture. . ."As you get older it does get easier, when you are coming in as a youngster it's tough because you get stuck into a bubble. Once you are in that bubble, you can get stuck and forget your values and identity. I also got stuck in that bubble for a while and so I had to look at myself in the mirror, to find my feet. My faith has just grown stronger but it's what you make of it. Rugby shouldn't define you as a person."

 

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: