Shaped By Soccer, a 41 Diamonds x Heritage Story by Shane Malcolm
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Shaped By Soccer, a 41 Diamonds x Heritage Story by Shane Malcolm

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My name is Shane Malcolm. I am 31 years old, and I live in South Florida. I am a professional footballer and full-time creative director. My life is shaped by soccer. It is in my blood at this point. I work in the sport, I play the sport, and I shoot films about the sport.

My family is from Montego Bay, Jamaica. Being born and raised in Jamaica until I was 10 years old gave me a huge sense of pride. I was blessed to see the country shut down when the Reggae Boyz qualified for the 1998 World Cup after playing Mexico. The whole country had a day off. Flags were printed everywhere. 



I remember it like it was yesterday. Before the first World Cup game kicked off the whole country was at a standstill with every family glued around the TV. Those were the first times I watched football live on TV. To see the Jamaican flag flying in every corner of the country during the 1998 World Cup was a beautiful display of our national pride and also our love for football as a country. 


Air Horns And Waving Flags

I watch Jamaica games with my aunt. She still lives in Montego Bay, and we live text during every Jamaica game. She is the biggest influence in my life creatively and through football. She would always have the games on in the house and would be yelling at the players. 

I remember watching the team play a friendly in Montego Bay at the old National Stadium. That stadium was right by my primary school, so I walked by those memories every day. The non-stop air horns and the waving flags made one of the best atmospheres I had ever experienced. A Reggae Boyz match on the island in the ‘90s was perhaps the best form of entertainment at the time, even with the rise of dancehall in those times. 

I have traveled across the United States watching the Jamaican men’s and women’s teams play. I believe our current men’s team has the tools and players to make a similar impact to the World Cup ‘98 Jamaica team. The country needs it. This is the best Jamaican team we have fielded in a very long time. The players are young and talented. Every game they play they improve. 


Designing The Change

I love to tell stories through film, photography, and design. I try to tell stories of grassroots football on the island. I like bringing to light the stories that are normally suppressed. Good news coming out of tough communities never makes the news. 

I make bags that I sell here in the United States - the company is called bootbags. I use that money to ship new and used equipment and cleats to Jamaica so that kids can have proper equipment to play with. I made one bag that at first glance would remind you of a knock-off ‘98 Jamaica kit. But in reality, it is a topographical map of Arnett Gardens (known as Jungle), the first community we started giving cleats and bags. This bag was inspired by the first field where we met the kids of Arnett Gardens on. The circle represents that roundabout, and the grass field is where kids from different communities came and played soccer together. 

This journey stemmed from my Jamaican coach supplying us with hand-me-down cleats that he collected from his older son and teammates. He would come to training twice a year with a bag of cleats that we would all pull from so that our parents would not have to go out and buy cleats for an upcoming season. This showed me a simple way to keep kids involved in the game. It takes some pressure off the families to provide something that can be so expensive to purchase. 

During these giveaways in Jamaica, we host a tournament for kids to play in and build relationships with community leaders. Recently, we started giving coaching equipment and coaching resources because I believe behind every successful player is a good coach. So when we empower the coaches, we can influence and impact far more players. I am hoping more Jamaicans off-island in the football world come back to the island to help structure better pathways for players to have more opportunities on and off the field.


Little Jamaica In Florida

I moved to the United States in 2001 and started playing organized soccer. This team was in Lauderhill, Florida, a place that I call “Little Jamaica”, and was 90% kids from Jamaican households.

My mom originally took me and my sister to the park to allow me some playground time and to put my sister into soccer, but they did not have a team for girls, so my mother asked if I could play instead of my sister, and they took me. I was not good at all, but there was a Jamaican dad there who enjoyed training kids and he helped me develop a lot in a short time. 

Growing up playing soccer here in Florida was very expensive. But growing up trying to play soccer in Jamaica was unorganized and there were no youth clubs and teams like how things are set up in the United States. In Jamaica, soccer is primarily run through the schools, because they have the most resources to keep those programs running. They have the field space, the staff, and the players, but what is usually missing is the right equipment and quality surfaces to play on.


Going For Guam

As a fan, I support the Reggae Boyz and Reggae Girlz even though I currently play for the Guam national team. I ended up playing for Guam for many reasons. The main reason was that I was never selected by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) to play at either the youth or adult level. I do not think at the time I was ready to play for Jamaica. Guam is not as high-ranked as the Reggae Boyz, but from that standpoint, I felt like I could make a difference for a team and country while inspiring other kids to play soccer instead of other sports on the island.

This does not really affect my feelings of identity, heritage, or belonging. I know who I am and where I come from. I can separate Shane Malcolm the footballer and Shane Malcolm the human. If you ever make it to Guam, you would see so many similarities to Jamaica, mostly the amazing beaches, laid-back culture, and a very deep love for Reggae music.


Making A Difference

These photos are taken from Miami to Jamaica to Chicago to Los Angeles with fans, friends, and bags that I have made from recycled goods.

I wanted to capture the overall feeling that the national team provides to the fans. The vibes, the energy, the smiles, the disappointment. Jamaicans a yaad and abroad are yearning for a successful outcome for the nation's football team. To qualify for tournaments is one thing but the most important thing to our culture is winning.

I photographed some friends who have connections with Jamaica and football. One of those friends is Monica Bosiljevac, who runs a football non-profit organization called Football For The World. For the past nine years, she has been organizing community events and donation drives in Kingston and also helped start Jamaica’s first all-girls soccer program, Reinas Academy.



41 And Counting

Football is important to me because it gave me opportunities most other kids could never dream of. I have kicked a ball in 41 countries now. Most people in Jamaica see football as a way to make it off the island. Life in Jamaica is beautiful when you have the income to enjoy it, but for most people on the island, life is not all sunshine and sandy beaches. Life is tough. Football is a great way for people to get educated abroad and you see young Jamaican players like ‘Whisper’ and Bailey redefining what is possible for young footballers on the island to achieve. 

It is inspiring what is happening right now in world football, and it requires more people jumping in and creating more pathways to give players more opportunities. I would argue we have some of the best individual footballers in the world. With the introduction of more Concacaf club competitions, players and clubs will get more exposure and hopefully more opportunities. 

My future aspiration is to own a football team in Jamaica. I want to bring more opportunities to kids on the west side of the island. 



Quickfire Heritage Questions


What are the words or phrases/sayings that anyone from your country will know? 

In Jamaican football, there are some terms you must know:

SALAD = meg. 

Pile = ball over head. 

Brukky boo = Leon Bailey = the ability to dribble incredibly well. 

Inn di Pigeon = Upper 90 (top corner).

Rux = someone who is not good at ball.


What are the most distinctive landmarks in your country? 

National stadium in Kingston, Catherine Hall stadium, Blue Mountains, Doctor's Cave Beach, Rick's cafe, Dunn's River Falls.


What is your country most famous for?

Track and Field, Coffee, Reggae music, Rum, and Bob Marley.


What do you consider your most distinctive food dish? 

Ackee & Salt Fish


If you could say “these three things symbolize our country and our people”, what would that be?

“Out of Many, One People”.

Jamaicans are all characters. 

We are proud people who love food, music, sports, good vibes, and being the best at whatever we decide to do.