Sports leaders have role in beating violence
Men in sport will play a significant role in steering youngsters away from violence, a government minister said yesterday.
Michael Weeks, the social development and sport minister, said: “Sports clubs and sports teams provide youth with positive role models.
“One thing I hear a lot in Bermuda, which upsets me greatly, is that we don’t have enough positive male role models.”
But Mr Weeks added: “I can promise you that they are out there. And I can also promise you that you will find many of them in coaching roles in sports clubs across the island.
“I have seen many a young man, and woman for that matter, lifted up from a bad place by a coach, given a chance on a team, offered a kind ear to talk to — one that does not judge.”
“And to those individuals out there, I want to say thank you — you are, and continue to be, the change agents that young people need to navigate those often tricky adolescent years.”
Mr Weeks was speaking at an anti-violence event organised by Bermuda College student group MenSpeak and held on the college grounds as part of its Spirit Week.
He said: “Sports also provide a physical outlet for an individual’s emotions and pent-up frustrations. A ticking time bomb eventually has to go off. Sports provide a sense of achievement, teamwork and camaraderie to an individual.”
But Mr Weeks added: “Unfortunately, many young black men in Bermuda turn to a life of gangs to find that community. That is the wrong community.
“Or perhaps they turn to drugs to escape the reality of their situations, or violence to make them feel in control.
“Sports makes you the master of your own body, the master of your own emotions and, if you let it, the master of your own future.
“It teaches you discipline, restraint, to be a humble winner and yet also gracious in defeat.”
The sports minister was joined at the event by Wayne Caines, the national security minister, and anti-violence campaigners Antonio Belvedere and Desmond Crockwell.
MenSpeak was set up to help Bermuda College students develop leadership skills and encourage their involvement in community work.
A father’s pain
Michael Weeks, whose two sons were jailed for drug dealing in England on Tuesday, fought back tears yesterday as he talked about the pain caused by their “foolish choices” at the anti-violence event.
He almost broke down as he told students at Bermuda College of “the elephant in the room — the headlines of my two sons who are in England right now, incarcerated”.
He was comforted by national security minister Wayne Caines after he choked up as he talked about his son, Malik, who died, aged 24, after a Christmas Day crash on his motorcycle six years ago.
Mr Weeks told the MenSpeak event: “I will end my talk as a father. My other two sons are locked up abroad for making foolish choices.”
He said the two “intelligent, articulate, talented black males” would now spend four years in jail instead of four years in university. He told young people: “Life is no joke. You get out of it what you put into it.”
Mr Weeks was speaking a day after his sons, Marcus Weeks, 28, and Dalji Waldron, 23, were jailed at Lincoln Crown Court for conspiracy to sell cocaine, ecstasy and cannabis and cannabis cultivation.
Mr Weeks, whose ministry is responsible for national drug control, said that prisons and street corners were “full of young black men — but the Bermuda College has plenty of choices for our young black men”.
He told the student audience to “graduate, go on to further your education” and “become men that make positive contributions to our society”.