*File photos
*File photos

Huddersfield Town forward, Nakhi Wells, and former West Ham United striker, Clyde Best, are among a number of Bermuda international footballers supporting the African Diaspora Heritage Trail (ADHT) Bermuda Foundation’s programme of activities in commemoration of the United Nations International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Slavery & the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

These local football stars have donated autographed memorabilia for a silent auction, which also includes the chance to bid for a signed Gareth Bale Real Madrid shirt, during the week-long series of activities which begin on Sunday 23 March with a commemorative service and ends on Saturday 29 March with a celebrity football match.

Wells helped Bradford City earn promotion to League One – the third highest tier in English football behind the Premiership and the Championship – at the end of last season before he was sold to Huddersfield during the January 2014 transfer window for an undisclosed record fee thought to be around £1.3 million. He has donated a signed away shirt of his current club.

Best, regarded as one of Bermuda’s greatest-ever athletes and a trailblazer for black players in English football, played 218 games for West Ham United over seven seasons between August 1969 and January 1976, scoring 58 goals. He endured racist chanting while on the field, monkey chanting and the hurling of bananas and peanuts at the pitch. The former international has donated a signed West Ham United shirt for the auction.

Other signed memorabilia for the silent action include a Toronto Football Club  hirt signed by Reggie Lambe and his team mates and an Ilkeston Football Club ball signed by Dante Leverock and his team -mates.

The theme of this year’s observance, which includes an inaugural series of lectures from Tuesday March 25 to Thursday March 27 is “The Triangular Slave Trade: Connecting Then and Now”, focusing emphasis on the links between Bermuda and the UK city of Liverpool.

“As Liverpool was a key port in the Triangular Slave Trade, we decided to capture the interest of Liverpool football fans in Bermuda,” said Maxine Esdaille, the chairman of the ADHT board of directors.

The most exciting activity in this regard is a celebrity football match on Saturday March 29 at Somerset Cricket Club between Team Best and Team Regis. Cyrille Regis, who is a friend of Clyde Best, is from French Guiana and played for, among others, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers in English football.  

More than 30 local celebrities have signed on for the celebrity match, including Rev. Nicholas Tweed, minister at St. Paul’s AME Church; Lionel Cann, local cricketer; also John Barry Nusum, former international player and physical education teacher; along with Bootsie, radio personality from Magic FM at Inter-Island Communications. Kick off time is 2pm and tickets cost $10 ($5 for seniors and children under 16yrs).

The International Day of Remembrance was adopted by a UN Resolution in 2007 and is observed on  March 25 of each year  to honour and remember the over 15 million men, women and children who were the victims of the transatlantic slave trade, one of the darkest chapters in human history. The International Day, first observed in 2008, also aims at raising awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice today.

For more information go to  www.adht.bm