No quick-fix to Island’s gang problems, says BFA’s Mussenden – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community

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No quick-fix to Island’s gang problems, says BFA’s Mussenden

Bermuda Football Association president Larry Mussenden insists there are no quick-fix solutions for solving the gang-related problems infecting some of the Island’s clubs.

Instead, Mussenden believes the BFA, the Government and police must work together to draw up a ‘multi-year’ action plan to deter youngsters from the gang culture plaguing Bermuda.

Mussenden responded yesterday to comments made by Minister of Public Works Michael Weeks on troubled team Boulevard, who forfeited a DigicelPremier Division fixture in Somerset at the weekend over fears for their players’ safety.

Weeks, who represents Boulevard’s constituency, said an emergency meeting, attended by the BFA and Government Ministers, was called following Blazers’ refusal to travel to Somerset Cricket Club to play Trojans.

He also suggested that scrapping Blazers’ senior programme could help rid the club of their anti-social issues.

However, Mussenden yesterday revealed the BFA had arranged the meeting three days prior to Boulevard’s match against Trojans, and said there had never been any mention of disbanding Blazers’ senior side.

“First of all, I’d like to point out that the BFA wrote to Minister Weeks and (National Security) Minister Wayne Perinchief on Thursday, February 2 so we could meet with them to discuss various matters in respect of the environment at our sports grounds and other institutions in Bermuda,” said Mussenden.

“Minister Weeks seems to imply that we called the meeting as a result of Boulevard forfeiting their match but that was not the reason at all.

“We called a meeting days before Boulevard decided on Sunday that they wouldn’t travel to Somerset, to try and improve dialogue and work together to improve and address any antisocial behaviour or gang-related activity in Bermuda.”

Weeks told The Royal Gazette earlier this week the meeting had been productive although he hadn’t agreed with some of the ideas put forward.

Mussenden said Weeks arrived late to the meeting, though, and left early without voicing any concerns or opinions.

“Minister Weeks didn’t clarify at the meeting or afterwards, via e-mail, what he agreed with and what he didn’t agree with,” said Mussenden.

“We certainly value anything he might have to say, though, and ask him to communicate that to us accordingly.”

Mussenden said Tuesday’s meeting, attended by Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva, had focused on “working together to address the anti-social behaviour, violence and gang activity that appears to be infiltrating its way to all strata of society”.

He also pointed out that there hadn’t been any acts of violence at domestic football matches for a number of years.

“We talked about anti-social behaviour, gang activity, what we can do to encourage people not to be involved in gangs and how to improve safety and security at matches,” said Mussenden.

“The BFA initiated the meeting, we haven’t asked for anything or demanded anything but suggested we all work together to address these issues.

“The BFA recognises there’s a certain level of violence and criminal behaviour in the community and what we want is a structured multi-year approach, a comprehensive action plan so we can bring together our neighbourhood, schools, police, clubs and teams.”

“The gang and violence issues are not a football problem, they’re a community problem.

“We want to come up with a very good plan that will have a reduction of the violence in our communities.”

BFA's Larry Mussenden

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Published February 10, 2012 at 1:00 am (Updated February 10, 2012 at 7:30 am)

No quick-fix to Island’s gang problems, says BFA’s Mussenden

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