Optimistic Russell ready to lead at North Zone despite major hurdle

Ross Russell is no stranger to lifting trophies both as a player or coach throughout his career. His winning streak continued, now as an administrator by winning unopposed for the presidency of the Northern Football Association at the Annual General Meeting held on December 28th 2020.

Russell`s slate swept the elections winning all the available positions at comfortable margins. However, their celebrations were short-lived not because of the COVID-19 regulations but with the understanding that the new executive has an approximate debt of $251,406.38 dollars left by the previous Anthony Harford`s led administration. The official handing over the finances are ongoing as the accounts are currently being audited and it is expected that the figures can unfortunately increase when it is completed in a few days.

Photo : Ross Standing (Courtesy Ross Russell Facebook Page)

Topping the debt chart is the prize money for the 2019 NFA Premiership, Championship and FA Cup tournaments standing at $127,500. Totaling $75,000 was the U-17 NFA football tour to USA and payments to teams Cantaro United ($40,000), St. Francois ($29,000) and St. Ann`s All Stars $8,000. Other expenses are referees ($18,000), auditors ($5,800) and match coordinators stipend ($4,500).

Russell said, “We have to complete the official handover and switch signatories at the bank and until then we will find out the exact amount. Afterwards, we will decide how we are going to approach it.”

Despite the daunting task of overcoming that enormous hurdle, Russell was quite jubilant of his team`s victory. He said, “I`m very excited; because from my upcoming (as a young footballer) it was never in my scope to become a president. I have achieved national status and from there I became a coach and now I`m president of a zone. So, I’m really delighted that the people still believe in me.”

The current goalkeeper coach for the National U-20 Men`s team added, “During my tenure, I want to see the league run properly, teams receiving their prizes, youth football as well as other things. I want to bring back football in the zone to the communities so people can be interested in the sport once again. If this can be done it will be a great achievement.”

Akel Baig was appointed general secretary for the zone at a board meeting. Baig said, “I`m elated to be appointed the general secretary of the NFA, I`ll be able to play an important role for football in the zone and by extension the Trinidad & Tobago Football Association (TTFA). I`m in a position where I can learn a lot and the sky is the limit.” The former UWI goalkeeper said, “I`m very ambitious, I love football. I would like to ensure that there is stability in the zone when it comes to the Zone becoming compliant. Once the clubs become stronger the zone will be stronger.” Baig mentioned some of their plans moving forward, “We are aiming to use social media to send out information to the members and the public which will enhance transparency and build interest. Also, we want to do some work with girls and women football also to revive the youth football in the zone.”

Photo : Akel Baig ( Courtesy Akel Baig Facebook Page)

The other members of the executive are: Anthony “Dada” Wickham, Rodney Stowe (Vice-Presidents), Michael Thomas (Assistant Administrative Secretary), Nevick Denoon (Assistant Operations Secretary), Kareem Paul and Dexter Harris (Ordinary Members). (Ross Russel, Michael Thomas, Kareem Paul – Delegates)

Richard Piper who withdrew his candidacy hours before the election had on his slate Derek Edwards, Triston Charles, Marvin Small, Hellwyn Maxwell, Mark Benny and Russell Bristol.

The last time the Zone hosted any football activity was the 2019 season when Cultural Roots copped the NFA Premiership title with 38 points while Cantaro United secured second place totaling 31 points and third was Trendsetter Hawks 30 points.

Winning the NFA Championship Division was Frontline amassing 34 points, Petit Valley/ Diego Martin United (32 points) bagged the silver medal and Harvard (23 points) collected the bronze medal.

Premiership Division teams: Cultural Roots, Cantaro United, Trendsetter Hawks, Belmont FC, St Francois Nationals, Patna/River Estate United, North Coast SCC, Miscellaneous Laventille United, Paramin Scholars United.

Championship Division teams: Frontline, Petit Valley/ Diego Martin United, Harvard FC, Seekers FC, RSSR FC, Morvant Elements, Malvern FC, Combined Forces.

Election Results:

President: Ross Russell (unopposed)

First Vice-President: Anthony Wickham (10 – 6) Tristan Charles

Second Vice-President: Rodney Stowe (10 –  6) Derek Edwards

Assistant Secretary Administrator: Michael Thomas (10 – 6) Hellwyn Maxwell

Assistant Secretary Operations: Nevick Denoon (10 – 6) Marvin Small

Ordinary member one: Kareem Paul (10 – 6) Mark Benny 6

Ordinary member two: Dexter Harris (11 – 5) Russell Bristol

Photo : NFA Premiership 2019
Photo : NFA Championship 2019