‘One Team’ initiative launched to promote peace within community
Two recent incidents at adjacent sports grounds has prompted the Bermuda Football Association to take a stance against violence and antisocial behaviour in the local community.
The unrelated events occurred at the National Sports Centre where two 15-year-olds were arrested after knives were used in a fight at an under-15 football match in late February. Less than a fortnight later, a man and a woman were shot and injured at a night-time social gathering at nearby Devonshire Recreation Club.
It is a disturbing trend in the community, with football officials concerned the behaviour could escalate in the community and spill over into football matches.
The BFA announced its One Team initiative at last Sunday’s Premier Division match at Bernard Park between two of the island’s top clubs, North Village and Somerset Trojans, with a new banner unveiled.
The banner was then displayed again on Monday night at the First Division match at Goose Gosling Field between BAA and Paget and the Premier Division match on Tuesday at Devonshire Rec between PHC and Southampton Rangers.
The One Team initiative aims to increase the awareness and importance of safe driving on the roads and non-violence in the community.
“It recognises that the community must act as ‘One Team’ and come together to reduce the reckless driving on Bermuda roads and the senseless violence that continues to plague our communities,” the BFA said in a statement.
“Football has been impacted with the loss of players to road traffic accidents and violence,” Mark Wade, president of the BFA, said.
“Our clubs will continue to do what they can to help. It is important for the entire community to mobilise to address these two important issues in Bermuda.
“This is a call to all of Bermuda to get on the road safety and anti-violence team.”
The One Team banners that promote safe driving and anti-violence will be displayed at all senior football matches through to the end of the season.
Shervin Dill, president of North Village Community Club and also chairman of the Club Presidents Forum, supports the steps taken by football’s governing body.
He admits that football, which caters to all ages, is under threat from the increase of violence.
“I think it is a great initiative and a step in the right direction,” Dill told The Royal Gazette.
“We can no longer stand idle and say nothing, we must be seen to be reacting to it and having some type of collaborative resolution.
“I think that is the only way forward for us to be able to get a handle on it. I’m concerned about the impact it is having on the game.
“That is one of the reasons why the spectator levels are so low, the fear of antisocial behaviour.
“We have to take some responsibility as clubs for a portion of it, but the majority of it is really a social issue in this country that is far-reaching.”
Dill, who attends games regularly, is pleased with the conduct of most players but says that bad behaviour at grounds by players and fans directed at match officials must be stamped out.
“There is a low percentage of footballers who may be involved in it,” he said.
“The BFA, along with the clubs have introduced the ‘best back’ policy to vet the players and to help to rehabilitate them in the event that they are involved in any type of antisocial or gang activity.
“The process has worked in some instances, but you can’t control what some people’s behaviour is going to be, despite all the policies and all the things that we do in terms of community programmes to keep the kids away from antisocial behaviour.”
Dill added: “We keep them challenged in sports and help to build integrity to make them better citizens long term for the country.”
The veteran club official says he is disturbed by the behaviour shown by some individuals.
“Some of it is just beyond imagination, what the youths of today are capable of,” he said.
“Whatever we can do, we should do to wipe it out, and this is a step in the right direction. We’re going to be working with the Bermuda Police Service as well and Glenn Fubler and his group Imagine Bermuda.
“We’re saying to persons responsible for perpetrating all this antisocial behaviour, ‘let’s put the weapons down, let’s find a way to work together and stop all of this nonsense’.”
Dill added: “Somerset and North Village are fierce rivals but what warmed my heart was at the beginning of the match the players were hugging each other, smiling and laughing.
“The aura was one of camaraderie, like it used to be back in the day. The two skippers hugged each other and we all came together as ‘one team’ which I think is a big message.
“It just needs to be out there for the public to see that we’re trying to save football, save sports in general. We even saw the camaraderie after the match.
“We put on a dinner and served both teams after the match. The game was over, we lost, but we were still good friends!”