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Steede takes over as Devonshire Rec president

Up for the challenge: Mark Steede, the Devonshire Cougars forward, has become the club’s new president (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Mark Steede felt the urge for a “greater challenge” and serving as the president of Devonshire Recreation Club seemed a perfect fit.

The business analyst and father of three devised a strategy and ran a successful campaign that ultimately gave him the edge over incumbent Nadine Henry at the club’s recent annual meeting.

“The main reason I ran for president is that I wanted a greater challenge in life,” Steede said. “I felt the club needed some new blood with new ideas and to focus on what our real needs are. That’s what prompted me to run for president.”

Steede added: “The biggest need is reconnecting the community. Over the years, it’s kind of dwindled away. But a lot of people I haven’t seen in years have actually been reaching out and coming back since the newly elected executive was rolled out.

“I feel that the youth programme is on the mend and now it’s time to take it to the next step by implementing an education initiative.

“I’m trying to really tackle the at-risk children that join our programme because we need to stop this trend of our young people getting caught up in the gang culture.”

As well as being president, Steede serves on a committee tasked with educating members about the club’s culture and legacy, which has strong ties in local politics.

“One of the committees and responsibilities I’ve been tasked with is libraries, which underline the culture of the club and blooding the present with the past,” Steede said. “I’ve been tasked with educating the younger generations with the rich culture and history of the club.

“The club was established June 1, 1945 by a group of brothers, mainly Caribbean-based. Some of them were also founders of the PLP and that’s why the PLP is so entrenched in Devonshire Rec and the Devonshire stronghold. We have lost a generation of players to family commitments.

“I’m trying to wrangle them back, along with past members and patrons, so we can help the youth to understand they are not just coming to a football club or a cricket club, but actually coming to a real historic place that has made a huge footprint not just in Devonshire but in Bermuda as a whole.

“Devonshire Rec, when it was formed, was a place to give blacks a place to go during segregation and the Civil Rights Movement in Bermuda, so that alone speaks volumes of what that building stands for.”

Steede has a wealth of experience, having served on various committees on previous administrations at the club. He has served on the event co-ordinating, youth coaching committees, and guided Cougars’ under-18s to their first league title. As a Cougars player, Steede has won every domestic title, including the club’s maiden Premier Division title and the “Triple Crown” .

“I have won every trophy and lost a good bit of trophies, too,” Steede said. “Losing also helps to define your character.”

Steede plans to retire from playing, but only after his career is “fully fulfilled”.

“There’s a lot of youth coming through and I remember when I started Shawn Smith [the former Cougars captain and coach] and Neil Robinson were handing the torch over to us,” he said. “Maybe in the next season, I can do that with these guys.

“Let them know it’s no stroll in the park. Let them know it’s going to take hard work to be a champion and how it’s more about the mental and physical challenges than anything else.”

UPDATE: this article has been amended to correct that Mark Steede is the father of three children