Sat, Sep

Lasana Liburd looks at former national footballer David Nakhid, now turned "political animal".

At 41, David Nakhid's international football career is beyond resuscitation while his bitter split from the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) renders implausible any notion of a return as national coach.

As such, Nakhid's press conference on Monday, which sought to refute claims that he helped the Bahrain Football Association (BFA) plot against Trinidad and Tobago, was possibly the last in the land of his birth. It was a matter of salvaging what remained of his reputation before sailing off into obscurity. Or was it?

Nakhid laughed off the suggestion that he was preparing his epitaph as a person of national interest.

"Somebody going to kill me or what?" he joked. "I am not leaving Trinidad and Tobago."

The question of one's legacy may be considered relevant for an athlete or politician on the verge of retirement. Nakhid does not seem to see himself in such a vulnerable position. He does not intend to step out of the forefront and cannot fathom why the Trinidad and Tobago public would wish him to do so.

At the start of Monday's press conference, held at Hilton Trinidad, Nakhid took out a wad of printed e-mail messages and laid them on the head table as carefully as he set down cones for national coach Leo Beenhakker, three weeks ago.

Perhaps it was a defining moment of the hour-long meeting. Nakhid, in front of the media, was morphing from an athlete to a politician.

It was Nakhid who began the morning on trial. Before lunch, everyone else worth mentioning was in the dock instead.

How many athletes have the gumption to propose a debate with politicians on issues like crime or the gall to declare themselves cleverer than an experienced trade union leader?

If Nakhid impressed football fans with his passing range as a player, his volleying range as an orator was not to be sniffed at either.

"I will speak out against crime because I am a concerned citizen," said Nakhid. "And no one has the right to feel they can silence me. As a matter of fact, bring it to a debate. Let me know why you think certain members of a society should not be investigated

"I am not making a statement perhaps like (PSA president) Jennifer Baptiste (Primus) made (when she said) 'let's take back the town from the Syrians'. She has judged there. I am saying investigate because it is something that is

of concern to all of us."

He expounded his theories for arresting the problems in Trinidad and Tobago, which he suggested were inequity in society end economic oppression.

He also knocked the recent "Death March", which was staged in Port of Spain on October 22, for having selfish motives and targeting the crime problem from the wrong end.

"This death march represents just getting security for the rich," said Nakhid. "Stephen Cadiz is talking about gang members... They are gang members because someone is giving them things they have to push or defend. They don't have the planes or ships to bring drugs or guns We need to follow that paper trail."

Anyone who thought that Nakhid's comments-three weeks ago on the TV6 Morning Edition programme-about the alleged involvement of "some members of the Syrian community" in the drug trade were a momentary slip of the tongue were mistaken.

Nakhid, who often tackled the administration on behalf of his colleagues as a player, saw himself as a champion of the people. And, he claimed, the people appreciated his role.

"I am asking the questions that most of the people with the national interest at heart want to ask," he said. "But we see what happens when you ask questions like that in this country especially against certain communities You get targeted. I can deal with that but answer the questions

"I don't need to be in politics to serve the country politically. I am a political animal anyhow you take it and so should all of us be."

Nakhid is not the first to step from the sporting to the political arena.

CLR James did so as a journalist, Wendell Mottley and Learie Constantine as athletes and Alloy Lequay and Jack Warner as administrators.

At some juncture, the public will decide whether Nakhid has the authority to speak on their behalf or if they believe his sincerity at all.

Nakhid, a former Trinidad and Tobago and Caribbean footballer of the year, lived abroad for the majority of his adult life, from the United States to Switzerland, Greece and Lebanon, while he may soon reside in Bahrain.

But he was confident in his assessment of T&T's society. He warned the business community of the supposed errors of their ways.

"You can build the walls how high and you can retreat to the mountains how far," he said. "There is going to be crime because no one is going to stand back and look at you living a life of luxury while people are suffering

"Jack Warner is not important, what is important is the national interest and the people who want to serve the people of Trinidad and Tobago and not just achieve power for their own ends. And this has been proven against (Warner) and people of his ilk many times before.

"I call on the authorities to investigate any members of any community that have been amassing wealth at the expense of the people of Trinidad and Tobago It is going to come to a head and it is going to fall on your head and that is what is happening."

Nakhid left for Lebanon yesterday evening where he remains until November 16 when he meets with the BFA to discuss his future role with them.

His future in Trinidad and Tobago is anyone's guess.