Just this year, Paula-Mae Weekes was sworn in as the sixth President of the Republic and Shamfa Cudjoe as the new Minister of Sport.
It was only fitting that the TT Pro League which is the only professional football league in the Caribbean selected Julia Baptiste as CEO.
Baptiste who has been in the professional football arena for over 18 years, told WMN, “I am privileged to be given an opportunity to work within a male dominated field and stand strong and resilient; privileged to make my mark in history as the first female CEO of a men’s professional league anywhere in the world; privileged that I can bring a soft side to the sport and to be named among strong women in TT.”
She explained the difficulties of making inroads in a male dominated field.
“As a woman you find that you have to be proving yourself over and over in order to try and gain acceptance. But, I consider myself to be a strong woman and I believe in and serve God, so when things got difficult I would just stop, talk to Him, get guidance and continue on my way.”
Baptiste is considered a “workaholic”; as the general secretary for the league, her scope of responsibility included ensuring that the rules and regulations were adhered to, preparing fixtures and press conferences, overseeing all committees, booking venues and facilitating meetings for managers and coaches. When someone loves their job and works diligently to see progression of their efforts it may affect the family cohesion, especially for a mother of three and a grandmother of two. Baptiste admitted that her position is demanding but she gets the support that is needed.
“My husband, Wayne Baptiste, is very supportive. He is my better half, best friend and counsellor. He has always been there taking care of the kids, putting away the house on Christmas Eve and I love him and thank him because I know without him none of this might have been possible.”
Remarkably, Baptiste is also days away from completing a law degree. She told WMN, “I always encourage the young people to take school seriously, go right through if you have the financial support don’t stop. It is hard to get back on that horse once you fall off. Beat the iron while it is hot, juggling school and work without a supportive spouse will be a tremendous challenge to anyone.”
How does she cope with it all? She put it simply, “I speak to God and He works it out. I love interaction with people, I love to laugh, so when things get difficult I take a break to hang out with the maintenance or the security persons. I listen to their stories, share mine, have a laugh and get back to the item at hand.”
A great task of transforming the TT Pro League awaits Baptiste but she welcomes it with open arms. “There is always some form of trepidation when someone takes up a new position, but the challenge is in turning things around in the league and I am up for it. I hope to set the league on a pathway to sustainability and viability which will take time but with enough support it will happen.”
She boasted about the benefits of the league. “The TT Pro League provides jobs for the young men, builds the cottage industries, builds comradery, community support also gives young men hope that they can earn a living while doing something that they love.”
Baptiste concluded by advising mothers, “You don’t (raise) your child or children for you only but for the world. Ensure that the gems you have are equipped enough to face what may lie ahead.
“Children are like arrows, they are to be projected not collected. Sharpen them well and project them.”