In his first Cup Match message Premier David Burt called on Bermuda’s residents to embrace and carry the spirit of the annual classic all year round.

While noting the history of Emancipation Day and Somers Day, and the uniquely Bermudian festivities, he said: “In the weeks before the holiday, we declare our allegiance to a side and defend it relentlessly.

“We lightheartedly tease others about their teams’s prowess on the field while we defend our team’s position and track record. We are diehard supporters, no matter the game’s outcome.

“As we prepare to celebrate this Cup Match, we do so against the backdrop of the two lives we recently lost to violence. While we engage in this week of activities, let’s be mindful to keep the families of these young men in our thoughts and prayers.

“As a government, we will dedicate our resources to combating violence and antisocial behaviour. As a community, we must work together to harness our strengths and energy, to help those who are entrenched in a lifestyle that cultivates acts of violence, by putting in place the right support systems that will provide young men and women with hope.

“As we move forward as a country, it is the Cup Match spirit of unity that we must embrace. We may not always agree; however, I maintain that we all want the same thing, a better and stronger Bermuda.”

Mr Burt said he and his family are looking forward to the holiday, adding: “We encourage our overseas guests to visit during Cup Match because we love being at the field soaking up the atmosphere and sharing the best of Bermuda with extended family and friends.

“Some of us are travelling, some camping, some may be at the beach while others relax in their air-conditioned homes, watching or listening to the match.

“No matter what you do during this holiday, have fun. Be happy. Celebrate being a Bermudian in the spirit of love and unity.

“Happy Cup Match, Bermuda. May the better team win.”