Jamaicans flock star baller names


June 14, 2018
Gladstone Taylor / Photographer DJ, a flag vendor in downtown Kingston. He is a supporter of Spain.
Gladstone Taylor / Photographer Gungo Peas, a Germany supporter, denounces Brazil as a possible World Cup winner.
Nicholas 'Iniesta' Armstrong

Latesha 'Bobbette' Scott is among many Jamaican parents who have named their children after footballers.

Her love for Brazil led her to name her son after Romario, the Brazilian superstar who helped the Samba boys to the 1994 FIFA World Cup win.

Scott, 41, said she is a long-time supporter of Brazil.

"From PelE days mi like Brazil ... . mi like how PelE control the ball and put it all pan him back," Scott said.

It is not uncommon for Jamaicans to name their children after sporting stars. In 2014, when the World Cup was played in Brazil, 'Neymar' was the sixth most popular boys' name used to register babies in Jamaica. But before Neymar, 'Zico', the name of arguably one of the greatest footballers in Brazilian football history, was a popular name in Jamaica. One person who got his name was Zico Gourzong.

Gourzong was born a year after the 1982 World Cup. He told THE STAR that both his parents were football fans, and their favourite team was Brazil.

"I was told by my mother that they wanted me to be named after the best player at the time," he said.

The 35-year-old says he was never pressured into playing football but remembers playing from as early as age seven. He later played for the national Under-13 and Under-16 teams, as well as at the Manning Cup level while at Ardenne High School. Gourzong currently plays football at least once per week, and contrary to what his parents expected, he has never supported Brazil.

He is torn between Germany and France but is favouring France for this World Cup.

Nicholas Armstrong was nicknamed after Spanish footballer AndrEs Iniesta. Armstrong hails from St Thomas and recalls that the name was first given to him at age 13 because of on his performance in a corner-league match.

"We were in a match losing 2-0, and a midfielder from my team was injured. I was forced to play midfielder, and the game ended 4-2," Armstrong said.

He told THE STAR that he scored two of the four goals and assisted the other two.

After leaving Morant Bay High School, where he played at the daCosta Cup level, he moved to Kingston, where no one knew of his nickname. An invitation from a friend to play with his team in the 2016 Whole Life Ministry Football competition led to his second encounter with the name. A couple of games into the competition, the coach was convinced that his skills were similar to those of Iniesta. The name stuck for the remainder of the competition.

The Portugal fan works as an accountant for a corporate area company, but this does not hinder him from playing. "I play ball every Wednesday and Saturday and sometimes on Sunday," he said.

- Judana Murphy

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