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Interview with African-Canadian sports promoter Jean Jacques Bosco

By  | 1 June 2008 at 00:06 | 1616 views

Not much is known about soccer or soccer players in Canada. To find out more, our sister publication, Afri-Can magazine, had a chat with Jean Jacques Bosco(photo), an African-Canadian soccer player,coach and promoter based in Vancouver,British Columbia, Canada. Excerpts:

Afri-Can Magazine: Please tell us a bit about yourself and the work you do
including the businesses you operate.

Jean Jacques Bosco: Well, my name is Jean Jacques Bosco. I am a Canadian who immigrated to Canada in 1998. I was born in the African Great Lakes region well known as Belgian Africa of the Great Lakes which before 1960, included three countries: Burundi, Rwanda, and Congo.

I am very fortunate to be here in Canada and since 2000 I have been running a formal year round Soccer Academy well known as JBST International Soccer Academy. I first played soccer in the African Great Lakes in both the First and Second Divisions. I also played in Belgium with Barvaux Sud Club while I was a student there in the early 1990s.

In addition to my professional soccer expertise, I hold a Master’s degree in Sociology of Communication, a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, a diploma in Psychology, and a diploma in TV Journalism. I studied in Africa, Belgium and France.

AM: Tell us about JBST International Soccer Academy.

JJB: In my soccer school, JBST International Soccer Academy, we coach and teach professional soccer skills to girls, boys, women and men in Greater Vancouver but operate mainly in the West Side of Vancouver. Since we started in 2000, our focus has been to develop fundamental and basic soccer skills. Through that philosophy, JBST has created over a thousand skilled players and developed in them, the love of and passion for the game.

I am now a well known soccer coach in these communities. I have all the personal assets and people skills to become a great teacher. I have not had the opportunity to do a formal degree in Canada yet but I am working on it.

AM: What is the status of soccer among African immigrants in BC?
Are any of them playing professional soccer?

JJB: The status of African immigrants playing professionally in BC is more of a recreational and random one than that of an organized one. In fact, we have many good soccer players of African descent who are playing for the Whitecaps, the semi-professional league, and many other men and women playing recreational leagues. Additionally, there are young players in the BC Youth soccer community.

Therefore, I think it is time to restructure the African immigrant soccer in BC as we now have all the necessary tools to do so. As one fellow African, Appolinaire Musende, said to me one day: “Let us focus more on soccer as it is one of the areas we do very well” and I totally agree with him.

AM: What should be done to improve soccer in Canada?

JJB: There is not doubt that soccer is nowadays the norm with Canadian families, culture and life. Having been involved in soccer for almost eight years as a successfull coach, I found out that now is a good time to create viable professional soccer clubs like those in Europe through which children can develop tangible basic soccer skills.

AM:Why do you think it’s important to have a soccer academy in BC?

JJB: In British Columbia alone, there are over 130,000 active participants consisting of boys, girls and parents who might not have played professionally but coach for the love of soccer. Most of the general coaching is run by those who sometimes had never played soccer or have a limited knowledge of soccer. Having played soccer at a high level and coming from a teaching background, I am bringing a great contribution to society. Not only can I help develop good players but also assist in the development of extraordinary citizens.

AM: Do you know of any problems faced by African soccer
professionals in Canada

JJB: It can be sometimes difficult for African players to integrate into Canadian teams. Firstly, there are not enough teams and facilities but secondly, due to different playing styles.

As far I know, I have not seen or experienced many problems faced by African soccer professionals in Canada. I might hear some rumours but I always go with first hand accounts. I truly believe in achievement, perseverance and meritocracy. My principles are very clear and simple: honesty, hardworking, smartness and hope. I do not live in fear because I persevere a lot.
The better you are, the better you’ll be able to connect to local clubs or soccer systems. In my travels, things happen but as far as I am concerned, I have seen more racism towards African soccer players in European teams and fans than in Canada.

AM: What do you think about the upcoming soccer tournament in July?

JJB: The upcoming African Soccer tournament in July is a unique event through which Africans and local soccer athletes will be able to exhibit their soccer talents and compete in a friendly environment. This year, the AST under ACSCA is a corner stone of what is going to be a Renaissance of African immigrant soccer in BC. I am looking forward to watching it.

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