Rugby World Cup- Japan trip review!

It's hard to believe that Tom Ellis and I are now on the other side of our World Cup assignment. The tournament is still going, but it's time to fill you in on what we got up to whilst we were in country. From players interviews, to visiting a Cat Cafe, it feels like we saw it all:

In interview with Willie Britz- professional Rugby player who has just qualified to play for Japan. . .

In interview with Willie Britz- professional Rugby player who has just qualified to play for Japan. . .

It was great to grab some time with South African-born flanker, Willie Britz in Tokyo. After spending time in Super Rugby, he now plays for the NTT Communications Shining Arcs, who play in Japan's top Rugby league. He spoke to us about how significant hosting the World Cup is, for the people of Japan, as well as sharing about his faith and how he has had to really rely on God in his move to Japan, where he knows very few people!

He has just qualified to play at international level for Japan but was sadly not looked at in time for this World Cup.

You can listen to the full interview with Willie Britz HERE.

Learning about the history of the Samurai!

Learning about the history of the Samurai!

Connecting with Rugby fans from all over the world!

Connecting with Rugby fans from all over the world!

It was quite amazing how fans from all over the globe came together to interact and watch the Rugby World Cup with each other, there was no friction, no tribe-mentality, everyone had the upmost respect for one another and their number one goal was to just have a great time! We spoke to countless Japanese fans who didn't follow Rugby, and didn't even know the rules, but got caught up in the frenzy of the tournament! It was great to see the locals embracing the sport and this has been helped massively by the performance of the Japan team, the Brave Blossoms!

Content Producer Tom Ellis in the Tokyo Stadium Fanzone!

Content Producer Tom Ellis in the Tokyo Stadium Fanzone!


Tom and I saw many kids playing Rugby in playgrounds and parks, they had football shirts on but were now playing the sport that they had seen on the TV! This is such a new reality for Japan and gives us hope that the Rugby legacy will be a strong one, long after the World Cup has come and gone.

We were able to connect with many Church groups and mission teams, who had come from Namibia, Fiji, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and France. It was so encouraging to see how the Japanese church was using the Rugby World Cup as a vehicle to introduce sports fans to Jesus. They told us stories of going into schools to run Rugby clinics, but ending up sharing testimonies of what God had done in their lives, to an assembly hall, packed full of kids! This does not happen in Japan, promoting Christianity is not allowed in schools!

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Our goal going out to Japan was to give fans a flavour of the sights and sounds, keep them updated with the breaking stories that came from the tournament, and to provide Christian testimony, which we did, through players, fans, Church leaders and missionaries. It was great to be able to produce a programme that was informative and a real source of World Cup update, but also gave you something else, the stories of what God is doing in Japan.

We even ran into Typhoon Hagibis and were treated to an earthquake! I think back to having to place metal pans on my bed, to stop the leaks from the roof ruining my duvet! It was all a great experience and another win for Passion For Sport! You can hear our Typhoon-affected episode HERE.

Please pray for those who A) have been affected by Typhoon Hagibis, as the clear up continues and B) those who have heard one of the Japan 2019 daily podcasts, that they would take something away from it and that one of the faith interviews, even a quote, would resonate with them in some way.

You can Listen to our show from the tournament, the Planet Sport Rugby Podcast- Japan 2019 on Spreaker or iTunes.

Sri Lanka Cricketer, Niroshan Dickwella: "I'm not ashamed, I will talk about God to anyone"

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Read all about the life of Sri Lanka Wicket-keeper Niroshan Dickwella, hear about what it’s like to be a Christian in Sri Lanka, and his pride at representing his country:

How special is it to play Cricket for Sri Lanka?

“There are 22 million people living in Sri Lanka and only 11 can go out and play in a single match, so I’m really glad and proud that I am one of them at the moment, when you wake up in the morning you feel proud of yourself, every time. It’s a great opportunity to make your country proud.”

Growing up who was your sporting role model?

“Kumar Sangakkara was my role model because he was a wicket-keeper, he was left-handed and went to my school as well, he’s from Kandy. That made me follow him and I had number 11, his jersey number when I was playing for the Sri Lanka Under 19’s. Eventually I had to change my number because I played with him!”

What’s the best thing about being a professional Cricketer?

“There are so many things, my career has helped me to take care of my family, my sister, my friends and the popularity that I have now is all because of Cricket. I got Cricket because of my God, God gave it to me.”

Tell us about the tattoo on your arm, which says Philippians 4:13. . .

“I got this tattoo a few years ago and I see it every time that I go out to bat. No one would believe me, but I say a small prayer to Jesus before I face every single ball when I bat. When I feel uncomfortable out in the middle, I just look at this verse and I then feel confident, I feel like I have Jesus next to me.”

Why do you believe in Jesus?

“My father was a Buddhist but my mother a Christian, so I was baptised when I was small. I went to Church and learnt about Jesus at Sunday school. As Christians know, when you get baptised, my parents pledged to help me and then I will take over from my parents. Since then Jesus has helped me throughout my career.”

Is it difficult, being a Christian in Sri Lanka?

“There is a bit of criticism going on in Sri Lanka at the moment but I don’t care about criticism because I always believe in my God. I want to show non-believers what I can do through God, I want to praise him in the middle and show everyone that I am His child.”

In your Sri Lanka dressing room there are Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, do you get the chance to share your faith with others and are they interested?

“We are used to arguing about some Bible parts and verses, sometimes we used to say, this is what it means, we’ve had a few chats about that. Sometimes when we hang out, or go for a coffee we talk about God, but in this country a Christian wouldn’t really like to open up and say that Jesus is my God, because it is a Buddhist country. There’s nothing bad about that, but I’m not ashamed, I will talk about God to anyone. If I have a chance to explain what I have gone through and what I have become, through Christ, I would love to.”

Do you manage to get to Church, with your busy cricket schedule?

“We go to Church and if we are in another country, if we get a chance we will go, even alone, I don’t mind. I ask others to come before a match. If I get a chance to take anyone to Church or teach them anything about Christianity, I will do.”

What advice do you have for young aspiring cricketers in Sri Lanka?

“If you’re training do it properly and if you are studying, study hard. You will get what you want if you give it 100% with both your ability and your faith.”

Meet Curwin Bosch: The Springbok Rugby prodigy

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You said on Twitter, ‘everything comes at the right time, be patient, trust the process. God is always on time.’ Why is that something that you believe in and hold on to as a Rugby player?

“That tweet that I made was basically a summary of what I had wanted to do in the last two years. I’ve told you that it’s been a frustrating time for me, for various reasons. I just feel that sometimes we try to control things that are outside of our control. Everything will happen at the right time, I might be frustrated now that I’m not in the Springbok squad, but everything is going to happen in God’s time and when he feels that I am ready for it. Maybe it was part of God’s plan, that he’s going to use these two years, which I might see as frustrating, to try and shape my heart, to build character within me. So that I can become the person that I’m set out to be.”

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

“As far as Rugby is concerned, I would like to cement myself in the Springbok line up by then. Obviously, that’s not only in my control. There are a lot of outside factors which could have an influence on that, but that is one of my goals and what I’m walking towards. On a personal note, one of my daily goals is just to keep growing in my personal faith. I’d like to spend more and more time with God every single day, get to know him in every situation of my life. Not just praise him when everything is going well but to keep the faith when things are tough Hopefully in five years time I will be married and have my first kid.”

Listen to the full episode below via the Planet Sport Rugby Podcast:

Meet Alyssa Conley- From Olympic Sprinter to Springbok Rugby hopeful!

Alyssa Conley was crowned the National Sprint Champion in South Africa

Alyssa Conley was crowned the National Sprint Champion in South Africa

South African sprinter, Alyssa Conley has made a bold career move in recent weeks! The 200 metre runner, who represented her country at the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, has decided to put her track career on hold, and pursue a career in Rugby 7s! She hopes to learn the game from scratch and use her electric pace to become a top Rugby winger.

We spoke to her on the Rugby Podcast about the decision she has made and how she feels about her new day job. Will she be good enough to break into the Springbok Womens’ Sevens side? Can she compete at the Tokyo Olympic games in 2020? Tune in below and listen to our chat with Alyssa Conley:

Will Alyssa Conley go on to represent South Africa in Rugby?

Is Boxing morally wrong?

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As we continue our new ‘Hot Topics’ Planet Sport series, we recently looked at the issue of Boxing and if the sport is morally wrong? We get a Christian athlete perspective from former Welterweight World Champion, Chris ‘The Heat’ Van Heerden and get the views from our panel, Soccer Chaplain Andy Searles and Journalist Russ Bravo! Come join us on the new series!

Have a listen:

"I just sat there and prayed, Lord is this the end of my career?"

Reporter Tom Ellis (L) speaking with Kyron McMaster during the Commonwealth Games in Australia

Reporter Tom Ellis (L) speaking with Kyron McMaster during the Commonwealth Games in Australia

On this week’s Planet Sport we featured a double-header of serious Athletic talent, USA’s World and Olympic Triple Jump Champion, Christian Taylor, spoke to us about where his identity lies, plus Kyron McMaster speaks about winning the British Virgin Island’s first Commonwealth Games medal!

Listen to the Planet Sport interview below:

"I think every person has the power to achieve, if they believe"

Credit: British Athletics/Getty

Credit: British Athletics/Getty

Last weekend we attended the Birmingham Athletics Grand Prix, which is regarded as the best one-day indoor athletics event in the world!

Reporter Tom Ellis, caught up with the likes of Ivory Coast’s Marie-Josee Ta Lou, the joint fastest woman in the world over 100 metres last year - plus GB Hurdler Cindy Ofili.

Listen to the Planet Sport interview below:

"We have to find more ways to bring spectators into the sport"

Natasha Hastings (USA Olympic Gold medallist)

Natasha Hastings (USA Olympic Gold medallist)

It’s always good to hear from two Olympic gold medallists - South Africa’s sprint sensation Wayde Van Niekerk and Team USA’s Natasha Hastings. We hear whether Wayde feels the pressure of being compared to the biggest star the sport has seen, in Usain Bolt.

Plus Natasha Hastings tells us about how she’s using the power of social media and that there’s more to life than merely sporting success.

Listen to the Planet Sport interview below:

"It's not about being big, it's about being as powerful as possible but as nimble as possible as well"

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This week on Planet Sport we’re talking Rugby 7s, and more specifically, South Africa centre, Ruhan Nel. The Blitzbok star tells us about what it takes to thrive at the top of the sport and also about how Rugby is basically just part of being South African!

Listen to the Planet Sport interview below:

"Whenever we see things that are not right in society, we ought to stand up and question them"

Henry Olonga in action

Henry Olonga in action

This week on Planet Sport you can hear our conversation with former Zimbabwean cricketer, Henry Olonga! He speaks to Planet Sport’s new presenter, Tom Ellis, about his story of protest against Robert Mugabe and what it meant to become the first black cricketer to play for Zim, back in 1995.

Listen to the Planet Sport interview below:

"I read scriptures in the Bible, so that I know God is going to be with me in that ring" 🥊

Field Reporter Tom Ellis (L) speaking to Joshua Buatsi (R) in Rio, Brazil 2016

Field Reporter Tom Ellis (L) speaking to Joshua Buatsi (R) in Rio, Brazil 2016

You can catch up on our latest Planet Sport feature, where we are looking back at the Rio 2016 Olympics and our conversation with British Boxer, Joshua Buatsi. He speaks to Tom Ellis about what it means to actually be an Olympian and how his faith in Jesus gives him the motivation that he needs!

Listen to the Planet Sport interview below:

What's coming up in 2019?

The Cricket World Cup kicks off in England & Wales, on 30th May

The Cricket World Cup kicks off in England & Wales, on 30th May

As we enter the New Year it’s time to look ahead at what sporting events 2019 has in store, and how Passion For Sport will be getting in on the action!

Cricket World Cup (30 May-14 July)

At a time when English cricket is at the peak of it’s ODI powers, the world is coming for the 2019 World Cup in England & Wales. PFS will be keeping an eye on proceedings and related cricket content may feature on our Planet Sport programme.

Africa Cup of Nations (07-30 June)

Undoubtedly the biggest footballing competition across the continent, AFCON always provides football fans with much entertainment, surprise packages and world class performers. This time around, it is still to be confirmed which country will be hosting the tournament, after the recent news that Cameroon were stripped of the rights. Egypt or South Africa seem to be the final replacement options (announcement coming 9th Jan). We aim to be at AFCON 2019, where we will be reporting for our Football Africa programme, to keep fans of African football up to date and to get their views on developing stories.

Rugby World Cup (20 Sep-02 Nov)

2019 is the year that just keeps on giving. As we hit Autumn, we will be sending a small team out to Japan for the RWC, where we will be delivering daily shows for our Rugby Podcast. Our time in Tokyo will be spent interviewing players, reporting on developing stories, plus bringing you insights into the local culture and initiatives that are running alongside the tournament.

Our in-house Productions

Alongside these flagship events, we will of course continue to bring you weekly sport content across our three productions, Planet Sport, Planet Sport Football Africa and the Planet Sport Rugby Podcast.

Do come on the journey with us, 2019 promises to be a memorable year of elite sport!

"It's been a wonderful year of great sporting success across the board"

Kylian Mbappe lifted the World Cup with France at this summer’s FIFA World Cup in Russia

Kylian Mbappe lifted the World Cup with France at this summer’s FIFA World Cup in Russia

This week on Planet Sport it’s the turn of our Sports Reporters to give their sporting highlights from the year 2018! Featuring France wonderkid Kylian Mbappe and USA Sprint sensation, Ronnie Baker! Listen in to the annual highlights of Solomon Ashoms, Norman Brierley and Liam Flint:

Listen to the Planet Sport interview below:

Stuart Weir gives his 2018 Sporting Review!

Stuart Weir- Our Football Africa, European Football Expert

Stuart Weir- Our Football Africa, European Football Expert

It’s that time of year, where at Planet Sport we look back over the year of 2018 and discuss some of the most memorable sporting moments from around the world. First up is our very own Stuart Weir, who is part of our Football Africa team and offers his expert analysis on all things European football. Listen in to his top moments from 2018:

Listen to the Planet Sport interview below:

"We were turning up to training without balls and training gear a lot of the time"

Dan Leo- Former Samoan Rugby International

Dan Leo- Former Samoan Rugby International

Over at Planet Sport, for the last fortnight we have brought you a two-part interview with former Samoan international Rugby player, Dan Leo. In this second part of his career story, he tells us about how close his side were to boycotting a Test Match against England due to issues in the camp and how his faith has played more than it’s part in his sport.

Listen to the Planet Sport interview below:

Marcus Jones, Head of News at Premier Christian Radio visits the PFS HQ!

Adrian Barnard - Content Manager (L),  Marcus Jones - Head of News (C),  Liam Flint - Digital Media Manager (R)

Adrian Barnard- Content Manager (L), Marcus Jones- Head of News (C), Liam Flint- Digital Media Manager (R)

We were delighted to welcome Marcus Jones down to our Cornwall office this week, with the aim of exploring possible synergy between the work that Premier Christian do, through their radio, magazine and digital media, and what we do here!

As Head of News, it was great to hear from Marcus the latest developments in Premier and see how, we at Passion For Sport, are journeying through the same media landscape, as more people turn to consuming their sport and information digitally!

We were really encouraged by the opportunities that our programmes have to share and contribute to the work that Premier is undertaking, especially with major sporting events just around the corner, in the form of the Rugby World Cup in Japan and the 2020 Olympics.

With a mutual desire to reach people for the gospel, these are exciting times. Watch this space!

"What kept me steady was knowing that God had created me to be there"

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American track athlete, Madeline Manning-Mims made history in clinching Gold at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. As a black athlete, her journey of challenging racial prejudice has left a long-lasting impact even today! She later went on to become a 4-time Olympian, a coach, a gospel singer and a chaplain.

Listen to the Planet Sport interview below:

"I'm not really sure what makes a champion, a lot of dedication and hope I guess?"

Christabel Nettey (Canada) showing off her Gold medal on the Gold Coast!

Christabel Nettey (Canada) showing off her Gold medal on the Gold Coast!

Canadian Long Jump Champion, Christabel Nettey, took time out after winning Gold at the Commonwealth Games to share with us what makes a champion, how she got to the top from some previous low points, and what her future holds after taking home a medal!

Listen to the Planet Sport interview below:

Announcing our CAMEROON NIGHT: African-food buffet & Sports Quiz

Cameroon are hosting the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations and we will be there!

Cameroon are hosting the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations and we will be there!

To mark us going out to the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon in 2019, we are putting on a fund-raiser with an African-themed food buffet and a Sports Quiz!

Please see the graphic below for further details and how to book your tickets! We really hope that you can join us and get behind our project!

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We hope you can join us!