Football’s under threat, says Bascome
Andrew Bascome has made a passionate plea for the entire football community to unite in order to change the culture surrounding the game in Bermuda for the sake of the sport’s very existence.
Long since his days of playing in front of crowds of thousands domestically, football in Bermuda has changed dramatically. Outside influences and changing values have a major impact on the game, most notably with dwindling crowds at league games across the country.
But instead of simply whining about the state of football in Bermuda, the BAA head coach, has made a call to arms to everyone involved, from players to coaches, to help preserve the sport for future generations.
“We have to change the culture surrounding football in Bermuda and that is the duty of all clubs on the island,” said the former Bermuda coach after BAA’s 6-3 victory over Devonshire Cougars on Thursday night.
“It comes down to the players, the coaches, it’s everyone involved. It cannot just be left to the Bermuda Football Association to be blamed for our shortcomings, it’s up to us in the game to take responsibility.
“When I played football in Bermuda, we had 2,000 people turning up to watch and what I see now is depressing.
“We have to take responsibility for the state of the game. Where are the children and families watching the games?
“That scares me because if the younger generations don’t come out to watch the games, then football here can’t survive and the game will die. Don’t be surprised if the game dies in Bermuda.
“Most of our games there are barely any fans watching, so we have to find a way to bring the community back out and establish some sort of pride in the game again.
“Sport can uplift a country, but it takes commitment. For too long as a sport we just haven’t got it and then you look around and wonder why no one is turning up to watch the games.
“To have any chance of competing on a global scale, we have to be committed to change; otherwise, Bermudian football will be left behind. It is something that needs to be addressed.
“There is a lot of work to do to fix the issues and we all as a collective have to get busy.”
One of the biggest changes in the sport has been the rise of gang-related trouble off the field, with a number of reported incidents over the past decade — resulting in the BFA’s Executive Committee holding an emergency meeting in 2014.
Bascome, who has spoken out publicly before about the issues of gang culture on the island, once again reiterated the need to eradicate the problem, calling on players to realise they have greater responsibilities within their communities.
“We have to correct the issues because it is deeply sad to see what has happened in the past,” he added.
“There are gang culture problems all over the world, not just in Bermuda, but the football community here has to rise above it and players need to understand their responsibilities in the community.
“It is a collective problem. Players have to realise they are not just turning up to have fun together; there is a greater purpose.
“They need to understand the role they play in our community, but the majority cannot see any farther than themselves.
“For me, the mentality of the players has changed. Dedication, commitment, outside influences, they all seem to want everything, but people aren’t going to give you things if you don’t put the commitment in first.
“We have to make sure that the young players coming through youth systems are properly equipped with the tools to succeed, and that includes their attitudes.
“Sport is challenging, but so is life. So what if certain things aren’t going your way? You have to find a solution instead of blaming everybody else around you all of the time.
“It is about setting standards off the pitch and for me that has not been happening enough in the game.
“We have to learn that is not just about the individuals; it’s about the entire collective.”
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