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A selfless act that should become the Dunne thing

Selfless acts of bravery have shaped the course of history. That much we should know from time spent in any classroom, home school or, for those for whom the formative years of learning were frittered away, flicking through the History Channel.

The likes of Joan of Arc, William Wallace, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr are heroes and synonymous in that they tread ground where many who might have been in their shoes paused for thought, then took a backward step.

Their acts changed the way we live and how we should look upon one another. That is not to say the world today is without its ills, but it is a better place to inhabit for their presence.

This past week, we in Bermuda mourned the passing of a similar hero, Carol Dowding Hill, who was among a chosen few to have paved the way for an end to racial segregation on our island.

Fast forward 64 years from when Ms Hill and Co picketed outside the Bermudiana Theatre Club and the issue of race remains with us still — uncomfortably so.

This division often pervades the world of sport, which is why it was so refreshing yesterday to see a white man at the head of what may be categorised as a minority sport attempt to drum up support for football — the pastime of the majority, whether rich or poor.

Sport occasionally gets mixed with politics; worse still, politics gets mixed with sport. It is our job in the media to separate the wheat from the attention-grabbing, while accepting the inevitable criticism when we are seen to be not doing our part for the national cause.

But this unprecedented move by Peter Dunne, the president of the Bermuda Bicycle Association, was no media gimmick; no mano a mano between rival political parties for the marginal vote. Save that for the “sports field” in the House of Assembly.

Rather, Dunne's initiative, spawned by the emotion that dripped from the Government Sports Awards, was genuine and should strike a chord in terms of how the future is played out in inter-sport relations; more significantly, though, in how blacks view “white” sports and how whites view “black” sports. The accusation that there are two different playgrounds in Bermuda does indeed have merit.

Peter Dunne would hardly put himself in the same conversation as a patron saint, “Braveheart”, a peaceful mover for independence, an anti-apartheid campaigner or an unparalleled civil rights leader — and we apologise if this leaves him feeling a tad sheepish — but, like the footballers who thrashed Bahamas on Wednesday night, he deserves applause.

The response to his outreach was immediate and welcoming, and bodes well for a future in which people of all sports and people of all races and persuasions can come together for a common good — and then stay together.

The most immediate common good will be the 2018 World Cup qualifying first round, second leg against Bahamas. Sunday's match should be nothing more than a formality. National Stadium should be packed to capacity — an ideal time, post-Budget debate, for people to come together.

For the Bermuda public not to be tagged with the refrain “sing when you're winning, you only sing when you're winning”, a full and raucous house at National Stadium on Sunday needs to be repeated in June, when Guatemala will be our guests for the second round, second leg.

The Central American giants are 82nd in the Fifa world rankings; Bermuda are 169th. That says as much as anything that Andrew Bascome's team may need a stadium full of screaming, flag-waving fans behind them far more for that fixture than for a tie in which they are already five goals to the good.

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Published March 27, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated March 27, 2015 at 1:45 am)

A selfless act that should become the Dunne thing

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