I Am Jamaican with Neville Bell

Neville ‘Bertis’ Bell has become a household name. He’s best known as a top-notch football coach or as one of the morning time hosts of Smile Jamaica on Television Jamaica (TVJ).

In whatever way you know him, Neville Bell’s charisma, passion, confidence, and authenticity makes him someone hard to forget.

He is not a huge fan of doing personality features or anything that holds his achievements up for praise. In fact, he considers himself an introvert and comfortably admits to enjoying his space, which often is at home, where he gets to play any selection from his over 1,500 CD collection, filled with slow jams.

Other indulgences for the soon to be sixty-six-year-old include, one good meal a day, a great outfit and spending time coaching the young men at St. George’s College.

The last child of six to his immediate family, all of whom represented Jamaica at the national level, Neville fondly remembers his backyard in Vineyard town that was naturally set up for a good game of football and cricket. “We had two coconut trees in the backyard that we used as the goal posts and a pitch for playing cricket. Those days were fun and easy.”

With a name that has become synonymous with football, as a coach and as a presenter, Bell could not escape the calling. “I was born into football. My older brother Jacki use to play football and I admired him so much. I have never met another person as passionate about the sport, in fact, his wife told stories of him kicking in his sleep.”

Neville’s deep admiration for his brother resulted in him being a left-footer as well. Following the untimely death of his brother in 1986, from a bus crash in Mexico, Bell returned to Jamaica after living in Toronto, with a desire to do all the things his brother did and more.

As life often spurts purpose from hurt, there began Neville’s journey into coaching.  What was to be a visit to a training session at St. Jago High School with a friend, led to him landing his first coaching job between 1987 and 1988. A year later, he visited St. George’s for another training session, fell in love and has never left.

“My goals are simple. My goal as a coach is that if your son doesn’t leave me better than he came I wouldn’t have done my job. Recently I coached a young man who I thought wouldn’t make it and months later he sent me a picture of himself in full graduation garb after getting a football scholarship to a university and he said ‘Coach I made it’. Well, I don’t have to tell you how much mi bawl.”

Bell’s willingness to go where life leads soon saw him answering another call; this one into media. “My brother called me one day to say RJR asked him to be an analyst and he doesn’t want to do it.  I, joking, said  I will do it and two days later they called me, said they heard I want to do it and that’s how my media career started.”

Praised for his knowledge, warmth, and authenticity on television, Neville has had the pleasure of speaking to some of the most recognized names across nationalities and industries.

“I have had the pleasure of interviewing every prime minister since Michael Manley. I have interviewed Winnie Mandela, Marcus Garvey’s son and many other greats of this time, but my most memorable interview, are those three I did with Louis Farrakhan. He is probably one of the most confident persons I have ever met, in my whole life.”

Neville’s career goal is to be the greatest sports commentators of all time. While he continues to work towards this goal his personal goal is to be happy in his home country, Jamaica.

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