Given Bermuda’s high rate of heart disease and its myriad complications, it’s of national interest that health-related organisations of all stripes do whatever they can to encourage increased levels of physical activity across the population. Since bad habits often originate in childhood, one of the best long-term ways to promote a healthier island is to inform young people of the benefits of exercise from an early age; to trumpet fun, interesting ways to keep healthy which can come with added benefits such as community and camaraderie with other like-minded youth. One such organisation which does just that is the Bermuda Jump Rope Federation (BJRF), a recently registered charity founded by coach Sionna Barton (aka “Coach Si”), whose goal is to promote the recognition and growth of jump rope in Bermuda by establishing it as an officially recognised national sport. We spoke to her about the origins of the BJRF and its achievements thus far.
“The sport of jump rope demonstrates the best of what sportsmanship is and should be,” says Coach Si. “There is a definitive competitive drive to the sport; however, its model of positive-minded inclusivity towards all athletes creates an inspirational environment for everyone involved.” She began her jump rope journey in 2010 as head of workshops for the Jump 2B Fit programme (J2BF), which currently remains part of the Bermuda Heart Foundation as the BJRF has taken on a more ambitious life of its own. Over the years she realised the unlimited potential of the sport, and eventually became one of the founding members of the World Jump Rope Federation (WJRF), an international body whose mission is “to provide global leadership for the sport of jump rope through our core principles of diversity, inclusion, innovation, promotion, and sustainability and through the ‘best practice’ of sport.” From there, it was a matter of collaboration between J2BF and the WJRF before the first internationally competitive team on the island was born: The Bermy Bouncers.
Over the past several years, the Bermy Bouncers have competed internationally at six different events spanning cities throughout the US, France and Portugal, raising the island’s profile on the global stage. The positive impact of jump rope on its members is apparent from their enthusiasm and self-recognised personal growth. “Not only have I pushed the boundaries of what I thought I could do physically, but my involvement in the programme has also forced me to better myself in all facets of my life,” states Yusef Bushara, one of the Bermy Bouncers co-captains. “Jump rope and the programme as a whole have allowed me to explore various avenues in regard to education, athletics and travel. For this, I am eternally grateful and I am excited to keep contributing to the sport that always gives back!”
During an Orlando, Florida, event in July 2017, Coach Si and the BJRF signed an agreement with World Jump Rope representatives from the US, Puerto Rico, Tanzania, Singapore, Nigeria, Mozambique, Spain, Portugal, Trinidad & Tobago, India, Hong Kong, Thailand, Kenya, Russia and France, committing to expand and unify the world of the sport. “World Jump Rope has an amazing platform to pull jumpers from around the planet, and encourage them to help grow other budding countries within the sport,” explains Coach Si. “It provides youth with amazing global travel leadership lifetime opportunities.”
In February 2018, as luck would have it, all of Bermuda’s schools will have half-term break at the same time, and to take advantage of the timing, Coach Si is holding a Bermy Bounce Jump Rope Camp to foster further interest in the sport at a time when most of Bermuda’s youth will be available to participate. Visit the Bermuda Jump Rope Foundation’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/jumpropebermuda/ to find out more.