AKEL Baig, general secretary of the Northern Football Association (NFA), is keen to play his part in the development and betterment of football in Trinidad and Tobago.
The 33-year-old Baig is part of the NFA administration, headed by former Defence Force and T&T goalkeeper Ross Russell.
The former Morvant/Caledonia AIA goalkeeper and youth team coach is currently pursuing a post-graduate diploma in sports management at the UWI St Augustine campus.
However, his primary focus is the short-term, as well as long-term future of football, both at the NFA and T&T level.
The affairs of the TT Football Association (TTFA) are currently run by a FIFA-appointed normalisation committee, comprising chairman Robert Hadad, Judy Daniel, Nigel Romano and Marcus Gomez.
“We all know of the past issues with FIFA and going to court,” said Baig, during an interview last Thursday. “I think we need to know the position we’re at, look into it, analyse it and come with solutions at how we could go forward, step by step, in order to better the football.
“It makes no sense that we all have different ideas and everyone wants to fight for leadership. We, as a body, need to come together and take the (steps) seriously.”
At his age, players will either be still actively involved or considering post-retirement plans.
According to Baig, “I think I transitioned into that area, outside of coaching, because I have more love for administration and my passion is there. I feel more comfortable in administration. Also, (I can) help develop and further better football in Trinidad and Tobago.”
Asked if he misses the playing side of football, Baig replied, “I have (gotten over) playing football because I’ve already made the step from playing to actively participating in football as an administrator. My main function now is to develop myself, gain enough knowledge and experience so I can lead in management and administration.”
This is his first year as general secretary of the NFA, but he has experience in football administration, having been involved in other committees with various NFA-affiliated clubs.
How has he been coping, as an administrator, in these covid19 times? Baig responded, “It have a lot of work to be done in the NFA, outside of playing. My main involvement, currently, would be (for the clubs) to be compliant with the TTFA, so that when football is ready to restart, we are in a position in terms of (having) our books in order to ensure we can manage football on the field better.”
He said, “Everybody is on the same page. We are trying to work together to ensure that we can further develop the clubs in whatever area it may be. The support is there.”
Football, at the club level, has been on hold in T&T since the pandemic struck in March 2020.
According to Baig, “We’ve been planning. One of the major things is vaccination and being able to go according to the covid protocols, the government guidelines, that they would want us to be vaccinated to partake on the field.”
He added, “We are trying to work out ways, with other respective leagues, so we can ensure that when we plan, we wouldn’t clash with other leagues. At the same time, we want to try and solicit sponsorship.”
One person who has been a mentor, as far as administration is concerned, is former TTFA and current Caribbean Football Union (CFU) general secretary Camara David.
“He’s a friend of mine and also my lecturer (at UWI),” said Baig. “I share ideas with him, and he shares ideas with me.”
Any long-term plans in terms of administration?
“My plan, at an administrative level, is to develop a proper strategic plan for the NFA. This strategic plan would also be something that’s needed to help the administration be guided in its goals and objectives, and it will be able to have any configurations, if need, going forward.
“A strategic plan is something which is not there presently and, even at a TTFA level, is also needed. In youth football, development is needed. A lot of focus is needed to be placed in youth football.”