Minister of Social Development and Sport, Michael Weeks attended an anti-violence gathering at the Bermuda College today,  where he gave a poignant speech on the vital role sports play in our community with regards to re-routing negative behavior.

The initiative was organised by student organisation MENSPEAK as part of the college’s Spirit Week and saw many of the campus community donning red as a symbolic gesture to protest gang violence on the Island. During the event, a moment of silence was observed to honour the memory of those killed as a result of violence in the community.

MENSPEAK creates opportunities for students to develop leadership skills by encouraging their active involvement in the planning and execution of events on and off campus and is committed to raising student awareness of issues that impact our community.

Joined by National Security Minister Wayne Caines, Minister Weeks stressed that “sports clubs and sports teams provide youth with positive role models”.

“One thing I hear a lot in Bermuda, which upsets me greatly, is that we don’t have enough positive male role models,” he said.

“I can PROMISE you that they are out there. And I can also promise you that you will find many of them in coaching roles in sports clubs across the island. I have seen many a young man – and woman for that matter – lifted up from a bad place by a coach, given a chance on a team, offered a kind ear to talk to – one that does not judge. And to those individuals out there, I want to say “thank you”; you are and continue to be the change agents that young people need to navigate those often tricky adolescent years.

“Sports also provide a physical outlet for an individual’s emotions and pent-up frustrations. A ticking time bomb eventually has to go off. Sports provide a sense of achievement, teamwork and comradery to an individual. There is a sense of belonging…and a sense of belonging is very important. As humans we crave that…to find our ‘tribe’. Unfortunately, many young black men in Bermuda turn to a life of gangs to find that community. That is the wrong community. Or, perhaps they turn to drugs – to escape the reality of their situations. Or violence – to make them feel in control,” he added.

“Sports makes you the master of your own body, the master of your own emotions and, if you let it, the master of your own future. It teaches you discipline, restraint…to be a humble winner and yet also gracious in defeat. That is why, as the Sports Minister, I wholeheartedly support the work of my team the Department of Youth, Sport and Recreation who has the responsibility for advancing amateur sport, recreation, and youth development in Bermuda. I am proud of the work that they do and I pledge to you to continue to support them as best I can, as Minister, to ensure ALL Bermudians – especially the youth – have access to the potentially life-changing world of sports.”

  • Photos Courtesy of DCI