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Exclusive interview: From Scottish winds to Caribbean beaches, the unique story of James Baird
A person’s livelihood can take them anywhere in the world and the job of a footballer is no different. However, how many careers can take you from Scotland to the Faroe Islands and then the paradise islands of the Caribbean?
Well James Baird’s has. The Scottish goalkeeper has travelled the width of the world, in order to fulfil football enlightenment. Despite now being settled in Trinidad with his wife and a family on its way, Baird’s ambition has not yet been satisfied and he is hungry for one more journey.
“As for now, I am looking for one last goalkeeping opportunity or a manager’s job to come up as I am now qualified” he states but his love for playing has not yet ended and certain addition to the family has contributed to this. “I would prefer one last playing position as I will be a father in June and have always wanted to be playing when I become a dad.”
One side who could offer this return to football could be his former side in the third tier of Faroese football, who he last appeared for in 2009 and he looks back fondly on his time there before. “My time at MB1905 was the highlight of my career. We won promotion, I had wonderful season, met a lot of great players.”
He also speaks highly of the football on the islands, “Faroe Islands is actually a good standard but the lack of grass facilities hinders them. They are similar to Division 1 and 2 Scottish teams and have very good youngsters.”
Although there are problems preventing this return, “my old Faroese club MB would like me back but finances are tight and it looks doubtful they will find the cash before the season starts March.”Another obstacle, like all men, would be his home life as a move to the islands off the coast of Britain would require a major uprooting.
MB was not his first venture into the islands although. In 2003, as an eager 18 year old fresh from experience in the Scottish second division with Alloa and Stenhousemuir, Baird made the big step to move to the oldest club in the Faroe Islands and one of the most successful, TB. “This was my first time outside the UK, except boy’s club trips to Europe. It went well football wise and the team was excited but I could not adapt to the country and missed home a lot.”
After just a few training sessions for TB, Baird returned to his homeland for brief stints at Berwick and non-league side Edinburgh United before a very interesting proposition was put to him in 2007. “I returned to Scotland after a short time in England and got a call from a Tobagoin coach Peter Granville.”
He took the opportunity to make the move to Tobago United in the Trinidad and Tobago Pro League, a polar opposite to that of the prospect of the Faroe Islands. The initial transition was not smooth to begin, recalls Baird. “There were a few miscommunications regarding living arrangements and salary.” Despite this, it went on to be a great success, “It was a fantastic experience and I would go as far to say one of the best years of my life. We ended up winning quite a few matches, reaching the cup semi finals and although I didn't play all games it was great learning curve.” He cites the recruitment of three full internationals, Guyana’s Collie Hercules, Antigua’s captain George Dublin and Suriname’s Lorenzo Weibers, as the vital part that changed a side who had struggled in the Pro League into a formidable force.
Baird has also had an international career of his own, which has also taken him across the globe. He made three appearances for at various Scottish youth levels before a rather different international outlook appeared. “I did go to BVI (British Virgin Islands) to train with the national team and I even played in a small tournament with the Under 23s.” However, it did quite develop into a full senior cap, “After long discussions on eligibility and people’s opinion of a non BVI resident decided not to continue the opportunity.”
Not many footballers can say they have played football in the variety of countries in which Baird has. A career which has spanned two continents and four countries and also included representing two different nations internationally, it is certainly something to behold. “I also represented the World All Stars with the charity Global United in Germany with Pierre van Hooijdonk and Pavel Kuka, which was amazing” reminds Baird who has a career no-one could deny is eventful.
For now, Baird is content in Trinidad and currently has his own club and academy on the island called Trinidad and Tobago Highlanders. He is currently a free agent and is looking for another opportunity back in the game and says he has been talking to clubs in Africa and England over a coaching role - at the age of just 29. Where he goes next is uncertain but what is certain is that when it comes to football, James Baird has seen it all.
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