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Real football fans put money where their mouth is

Perhaps World Cup wagonists might muster $150 to purchase a mini-flag.

More committed supporters might dig deep into their pockets to buy authentic team jerseys for $20,000 each.

But Travin ‘TJ’ Jackson went far beyond the average football fan by emblazoning his company minibus with images of Argentinian soccer stars Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona and the national flag. The price of real football passion: $200,000.

Jackson, the owner of TJ Sports Barber Shop and Spa in Ocho Rios, St Ann, has completely vinyl-wrapped the vehicle in the South American nation’s blue and white.

In a Gleaner interview on Tuesday, Jackson remains convinced that Argentina will make it to the knockout round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar that will begin on Saturday, December 3. Despite the Albicelestes faltering in a shock 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia, he believes they will ultimately win their third title.

But Jackson’s fan power was not only geared at declaring his love for Argentina but to attract customers and rake in more profit.

“I am definitely an Argentina fan, so that’s one of the main reasons, [but] also I operate a barber shop and a sports shop and spa, so it goes hand in hand towards advertising my business and luring customers to the shop over the World Cup time,” he explained.

The store, which functions under the slogan ‘It’s more than just a haircut’, is a one-stop shop for male clients.

The business sells genuine sports jerseys and other sporting goods in addition to providing barbering and beauty treatments.

“We see where it’s gradually growing over the years. We get a lot of tourists, we get a lot of business people, school persons ... all types of customers,” he said of the business, which was founded in 2015.

The fervent fan said this wasn’t the first time he has wrapped the bus in sports-themed vinyl.

“It was wrapped before in this thing with Neymar (da Silva Santos Júnior), (Cristiano) Ronaldo and (Lionel) Messi ... in a barber shop blue two years ago, but this time it’s more catchy because it’s straight Argentina,” he said.

Jackson’s barber shop has evolved into a sports den, equipped with four flat-screen televisions and a refrigerator so that clients can soak up the excitement while getting groomed.

That’s an upgrade from his offerings for the 2018 World Cup.

“From you know me, you know say a sports, and if you see me like six times out of the week, I will have on a jersey,” he said.

Jackson, a father of two – a newborn and a nine-year-old son – says he is eager to share his love of athletics with his family.

From grades seven to 11, he was a member of the cricket team at Anchovy High School in Montego Bay, St James, where he also played other sports such as basketball and track and field. For the latter two years of his stint on the cricket team, he served as captain.

He advanced in the sport by competing for the Under-17 team.

One store employee told The Gleaner that Jackson, her employer, was passionate about everything sports-related.

“When you come inna di shop, you can see all different type of players, both Jamaican [and] international,” she said.

Jackson’s store can be located at Shop #10 in Island Plaza, Ocho Rios.