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Nottingham Forest player John Bostock on faith, football and isolation

by Marcus Jones

As a Christian footballer who's played for 14 clubs in five different countries, John Bostock told Premier has endured his fair share of isolation.

Often away from friends and family in places where he doesn't even speak the language, he still describes this current period of lockdown due to the coronavirus as "new ground".

The 28-year-old, who represented England at age grade level, is currently part way through a season on loan at Nottingham Forest playing in the Championship.

Isolating at home with his wife and four-and-a-half-year-old son, Bostock is keen to get back on the pitch but is getting used to the new way of life.

"If you told any of us three months ago this would be the reality, nobody would have believed you," he tells me as we chat via Zoom. "But even in the midst of this, I'm convinced that you can use it for good and you can try to enjoy the things that you can enjoy, spend time with family and work on you as an individual. It's tough, but I'm very grateful to have my wife and son with me. We're just trying to make the most of it to be honest."

Bostock says he's been given no indication of when football will return, but is following a training programme sent to him by the club so he'll be ready when it does return.

In the meantime, he's enjoying teaching his boy and has purchased bikes for family rides together.

"I'm aware that we might not ever get this time again," he tells me. "Reality can start up again soon so we're just trying to enjoy this priceless, precious time."

Faith plays a big part in Bostock's life. On top of his own footballing career, he oversees a network of over 100 professional Christian footballers across Europe who meet together for prayer, Bible study and fellowship.

That faith, he says, is what has helped him through this particularly difficult time.

"There's a scripture that comes to mind when Jesus said, 'in the world, you have tribulation but take heart I've overcome the world'. He also said that 'I'll give you peace, true peace that the world can't give'. 

"In the midst of this uncertainty of what's going on, everybody's asking questions, Jesus says, 'even in the midst of your question, I'll give you peace'. So I've experienced true peace in the midst of this. 

"I grieve for those who've suffered, and for those who have been impacted in terms of their health but even in the midst of suffering, you really can have peace. 

As someone who's had to find different ways of getting Bible teaching and fellowship due to travel and football schedules, Bostock was one step ahead of other Christians across the country when it comes to adapting to lockdown.

"It's new ground for all of us, but in terms of church - what is church? You know, when two or three are gathered, God promises to be with us. 

"Whether you gather physically or digitally, there's something so special about coming together in God's name. 

"I'm so grateful for technology, even now having an interview through zoom, it removes a barrier. I've been passionately using technology for the last five years to gather, equip and unite footballers so I'm glad that I was prepared for this period."

While lockdown is expected to carry on for a little while longer, talks continue about re-starting the football season. Games are expected to take place in empty stadiums to minimise risk.

While Bostock is leaving that to the experts, he's continuing to support believers within the sport. 

The second part of Premier's conversation with John Bostock looking in more detail at his network 'Ballers in God' will be available later this week.

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