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Support football team, urges cycling chief

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Support for the Bermuda football team's World Cup qualifier on Sunday is being drummed up by an unexpected source ... the president of the Bermuda Bicycle Association.

Peter Dunne circulated an e-mail to top officials in other sports governing bodies yesterday, urging total support for the footballers when they play Bahamas in the second leg of their first-round qualifying tie at National Stadium.

Mr Dunne encouraged them to spread the word of the match to family, friends and work colleagues, and to show up at the match wearing Bermuda colours, carrying the national flag and making lots of noise.

“As you know, our national football team will continue its campaign to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia this Sunday at the National Stadium against Bahamas and I would encourage you and your federation's members and all of Bermuda to go to the stadium in support of our team,” Mr Dunne wrote.

“All of us, at one time or another, have lamented the lack of public support for our national athletes and this is an opportunity for us to lead our community in rallying for our team. Imagine the atmosphere in the stadium if it was filled to capacity with fans in red and blue, waving our flag and making all sorts of noise!

“This is what all athletes dream of and we can be the ones to help make this a reality a few days from now. The Bermuda supporters should be lifting our teams to a new level of performance, instilling greater confidence in the athletes while swelling the supporters with the national pride often mentioned by Youth Sports and Recreation director Norbert Simons.”

Mr Dunne said that he was motivated to send out the e-mail after recognising the importance of the match and in acknowledging the impact that a stadium full of partisan fans can have on the team.

“You can't be supporting the national team sitting in your living room,” he said. “Since last year, one of the big things of the director of Youth and Sports is national pride. People need to go out on Sunday, regardless of the result tonight; pride is pride.

“Just about every Bermudian has their favourite Premiership team and they wear the jerseys, but when you go to a game at National Stadium, half the people are wearing a Tottenham, [Manchester] City or United jersey.

“But I say ‘no, wear your red and blue'. In cycling, we want to see that kind of support, too.”

Mr Dunne's rallying call received a swift response from Donna Watson, president of the Bermuda National Athletics Association, who appreciates the importance of a packed National Stadium, as was seen when the Island hosted the 2012 Carifta Games to sold-out crowds for three days.

The BNAA will send a 12-member team to the Carifta Games in St Kitts next weekend.

“Peter, I will definitely be there and will encourage my association to attend,' Ms Watson said in her reply Mr Dunne. “As I stated at the Sports Awards [last Saturday], it is a great feeling to have the stands full and have Bermuda behind you as we had for three days for Carifta.

“We have a great team and we would really boost their confidence if the public of Bermuda supported this event. They need to go to the radio stations, talk shows and build this up so that the supporters come out in the red-and-blue and with their flags. As I stated, there is no greater feeling when you are putting on an event to look at the stands and see the red-and-blue, see the flags flying and every seat in the house taken with standing room only. Let's support the Bermuda Football Association!”

Mr Dunne is hoping support of this magnitude can spread to other sports during international competition.

He said: “Who knows? Maybe this will become infectious and all of our sports will benefit from increased public awareness, greater support from the community and our athletes will be motivated to even higher levels of performance. So let's get behind our team, rally the fans and be a part of that enthusiastic crowd.”

The only time the existing National Stadium was sold out beforehand for an international football match was in 2008 when Bermuda hosted Trinidad & Tobago for the second leg of a World Cup qualifier, after a shock 2-1 win in Trinidad the previous weekend. All 4,500 seats were quickly snapped up before the return match as fans lined up outside the BFA office in Hamilton to purchase tickets.

It is expected that the presence of overseas professionals such as Nahki Wells, Reggie Lambe, Jonté Smith, Dale Eve and Freddy Hall will attract a big crowd on Sunday.

BBA president: Peter Dunne
National Stadium was sold out for the 2008 World Cup qualifier between Bermuda and Trinidad & Tobago. Peter Dunne, president of the Bermuda Bicycle Association, is urging fans to turn out in numbers to support the football team against Bahamas on Sunday
Fans line up outside the BFA office to buy tickets in advance for the 2008 World Cup qualifier between Bermuda and Trinidad & Tobago. All 4,500 tickets were sold before the match.

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Published March 26, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated March 26, 2015 at 1:32 pm)

Support football team, urges cycling chief

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