'As a player coach at central FC we won the league, Cup and CFU which was a huge year for us in 2016-17, as it was also our third year and 3 in a row of league wins. We also got to be part of the CONCACAF Champion’s League which was an amazing experience...'
Name, age, where are you based?
James Baird , 37 years old, born in Scotland but based in Trinidad and Tobago
Current and past Roles:
I have had the pleasure of having a lot of roles
Most recent: Montreal manic TD, Matura Reunited FC Head coach and TD ( Trinidad and Tobago Super league 2019),
TD The West Indies FA,
Player /Technical Director UMF Snaefell Iceland 2017-18)
Player/Gk Coach Central FC (Trinidad and Tobago pro league 2016-17plus short stint in 2018), Technical Director Gauya United FC ( 2015-2016).
Other Roles:Trinidad and Tobago national Team Ast. Coach 2016 and Turks and Caicos Under 20 Gk Coach 2015 .
How did you get into coaching and what has your path been like?
I always coached along with playing even from a young age, I had a passion for helping younger players like I was helped as a youth and wanted to give back. With this in mind I helped out with my local club broxburn Colts, as my little brother John played, so I used to help coach their goalkeepers. I also think my passion for past 'football manger' games gave me an added incentive to get involved.
Any Major achievements or other stories to share?
Achievements: I had quite a few achievements as a player from SFA league 2,3 and the challenge cup whilst at Alloa Athletic , granted I was more a backup player and didn’t feature much. (15-17years old ) League 2 runners up in faroe islands for MB1905 in 2008, along with international opportunities.
My first triumph as a coach would be 2008 winning the woman's league in the Faroe Islands.
As a player coach at central FC we won the league, Cup and CFU which was a huge year for us in 2016-17, as it was also our third year and 3 in a row of league wins. We also got to be part of the concacf champion’s league which was an amazing experience. Also the opportunity to coach on and off with the Trinidad and Tobago national team and help in any way has been a great honor.
Lastly my biggest achievement or hardest but most rewarding is helping my son Broden, to develop a love for football and life. Although I’m not sure where the love for Liverpool came from!
I have done a lot of Volunteering throughout my career, helping Turks and caicos in 2015, various boys teams and helping many players work on their game individually and to get opportunities.
In terms of big names worked with, here in Trinidad and Tobago I've worked with most of the big names; Kenwyn Jones , Jan Michael Williams, all who I would consider to be friends now. I also had the opportunity to play and become friends with many ex legends from my playing career and work with Global United the Charity. ( Ruud Gullit, Peir Van Hoojidonk, Pavel kuka , Lutz Phannanstiel, the list goes on and on.)
One important thing I will say is its important to be able to speak a little of the language of countries you live or work in! I didn’t get that at first, when I was in Germany we had a team meal with Global United and everyone ordered food.
As I wasn’t up to speed in German , the only thing I could understand on the menu was Tiramisu which I ordered and to my embarrassment, when it arrived and everyone else had steak and pasta and salmon, I was left with my dessert! So to this day a lot of my fellow athletes and coaches call me Tiramisu...
How did the move to Trinidad & Tobago come about and what was it like playing and living there?
I came to Tobago In 2007 looking for a new challenge and was invited to play in an international match as a guest and after that, I was asked to play for Tobago United In the TT pro league. Although it was a real culture shock I embraced it and would say, it was the best decision I ever made in my career and in terms of development as a person and player
What’s been your favorite country to date both in terms of living and working and what are some differences you’ve experienced in football culture?
I have been very privileged to enjoy most places, obviously I love Trinidad and Tobago hence why I chose here as my home, but I also loved the remoteness of the Faroe Islands and the close community offered in Midvagur. It will always be very close to my heart especially after such a successful time - even though they tried to get me to eat Rotten meat which is a national delicacy!
How’s your current role in Canada going and what past experiences have helped you settle into this role?
My role has been severely effected due to covid but I have tried to complete a lot of work remotely and it's going well. I can’t wait to get on the ground but we have to wait and see what 2021 brings, hoping the virus evaporates and allows us to get back to some kind of normalized life. It's great project with a great bunch of guys and the president Gary Gaul has a clear vision, so it’s a pleasure to work with them and bring back the manic name to Montreal!
What have been some of the main challenges you’ve faced in your career and how have you overcome them?
As a younger (well maybe not that young anymore) …coach, I think sometimes owners want experience and to get experience you need roles making it a catch 22, but once given the opportunity to show what I can do, this has never been an issue.
What’s been best for your career development so far and what do you do to keep upskilled?
The best career development for me has been trying to work with and learn from top coaches, I have many friends that are very experienced like Tom Saintfiet. Also, trying to do as many courses as possible and try to coach as much as possible, even if its voluntary.
What advice would you give to a coach (or player) looking to ply their trade abroad?
Go for it! It was something I have done as a player and a coach and it sets you apart from the norm. I always believe that when an owner is looking for a new candidate , something different on your cv whether a skill or work experience abroad, would surely go in your favor. It shows your adaptable, can learn new cultures and that you're willing to learn. It is also hugely rewarding and on a personal level, helps you network and meet many new and interesting people.
How’s the future looking for football in the country and for yourself?
Well my past was football and my future is football this I know. I have big aspirations, I always want to give back as much as possible and long term find my way back home to coach eventually. But like life, you never know what opportunity is around the corner, never say never and keep developing as a person and a coach.
“Remember what’s for ye won’t go past ye” my father always told me this and its always been so true so keep working and good things will come.
Listen and watch the full interview with James here