Interview with Donald Brideau of Bounce Across Jamaica – Every Youth Deserves a Ball

We interview Donald Brideau, a Canadian who has lived in Jamaica for over 31 years and started a community outreach football (soccer) program called “Bounce Across Jamaica”. This program starts football teams and leagues for the youth in Jamaica.  His mission is to improve the lives of Jamaican youth “one ball at a time”. Donald believes “Every Youth Deserves a Ball”.  He devotes his time to collecting and bringing football equipment to the ghettos and country sides of Jamaica.

Why did you move from Canada to Jamaica?
The choice was easy. It was the people, being able to live a healthy lifestyle and growing food all year long.

Where did you come up with this idea, getting a “Ball to every child in Jamaica” and starting teams/leagues?
After dealing with the schools I realized that the best thing to do with the balls was to give them directly to the children and give the team jerseys to the communities to start teams and eventually a league

How many years have you been doing this project?
I started bringing football gear and equipment to Jamaica about 8-9 years ago

What were you goals when you first started it? Have you achieved that goal?
There were no goals when I first started and now the goals are getting bigger every year. There is so much talent and so little development of that talent on the island. My goal is to provide the opportunity to bring football to the ghettos and country side.

Tell us how your efforts are affecting the communities?
Take Spanish town as an example, they  brings kids to visit communities that they wouldn’t normally because of the violence.

How is the program received by the communities when you bring equipment and organize teams/leagues?
The appreciation and respect from the kids and the adults is heartwarming. It becomes easy to see why I do this.

Were there any times you felt that this would not work?
To be honest whenever the government would get involved. I brought in the football gear without all the official documents by asking other people to bring what they can in their luggage. It permits me to spend my time finding better ways to distribute the gear instead of dealing with forms and government red tape.

Do you have sponsorship today for your efforts?
It has been discussed and will probably happen sometime in the future. But donations are coming from nice people and soccer clubs are my sponsors

Do you think this is a model to combat violence in communities across Jamaica?
It could certainly be used as a model because the more time they spend playing the less chance of violence

What is the one thing you miss about Canada?
I have not snowboarded in 13 years so I guess I miss that, but I do get a chance to get back every once in a while.

What is the one thing you love about Jamaican people?
Jamaican people are proud, beautiful and very independent. I love how they accepted me as one of their own. They often call me brown man and that makes me proud.

Are you working on any other projects to impact the youth in Jamaica?
There is a project in the works to start a football/boarding school for selected young talent. It would be in association with a group from France who did the same thing in Africa

Thanks for the interview. Do you have any final thoughts?
 I wish everyone could feel the pleasure of sharing. If you felt it already then teach someone else to share. Every ball, jersey or shoes helps and it couldn’t be done without all the nice people who decide to share. Nuff respect to you and all of them.

To learn more, donate or get involved visit the Bounce Across Jamaica website –  or contact Donald Brideau – [email protected]