Football’s relationship with me has always been complicated. I grew up in Abu Dhabi, where my parents arrived as immigrants from India. I discovered the game at the age of seven, when Zidane lifted the ’98 World Cup in France, and became obsessed four years later when Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and the Brazil created magic in Korea-Japan 2002. I was passionate about playing although learning it only on the streets. The tactical side of the game always intrigued me and I remember drawing up formations with my teammates before kickabouts, and always wanting to captain the side and organise plays.
After working as an teacher and an essay editor in the UAE, I began studying medicine in Latvia in 2015. The capital, Riga, where I studied, reignited my passion for the game when I joined a non-league side of foreigners, Riga United FC. I wasn’t a remarkable player for the demands of the Latvian fourth division, but I wanted to use the opportunity to study the game and its technical, tactical, physical and mental concepts. I opened a notebook and began writing everything that made the game clearer to understand. I started with the RUFC reserves and played for the first team in 2016. In 2017, I tore the ACL on my right knee, my dominant leg. The process of surgery and rehab was challenging, especially in amateur football where one lacks professional medical guidance. I was offered to coach the Women’s team and the academy at the club during this recovery period.
I served as head coach of Riga United Ladies from 2017-2018, and we played in the Latvian Women’s Premier League. My experience broadened my perspective of the psychological side of the game, dealing with players of different caliber. I also learned to manage a side with minimal resources and little support. My coaching knowledge improved through developing kids and youth players at the academy as well. I was elected to the Riga United board in 2019. I redesigned the club logo that year, and I gained insight into football management, sponsorships and corporate relations. In December 2019, I began writing for Total Football Analysis and I have written more than 50 articles for its website and monthly magazines. I looked to dust off my boots for one last time as a player for Riga United in my final year of med school. Unfortunately, I tore my left ACL in 2020, coming out of the lockdown. I finished the season coaching the men’s team instead.
“The beautiful game is a microcosm of our complex human society.”— Roshan Rao
During these years, I dived deep into a complex world of the game of football, yet I will always seek an opportunity to play the beautiful game in its simple form, the way I discovered it on the streets. Facing an identity crisis as a third-culture kid, the game has been my only guide through life. It has taught me everything. Even now, when I close my eyes, and think of ‘home’, all I see is a field of green. This project, The Field of Green, was an idea I envisioned in 2017 lying on the pitch, just after tearing my first ACL, to express the beautiful game as a writer instead of a player, as my future seemed obscure. My journey and the people I met along the way serve as inspiration for the characters in the stories.
Thanks for your interest in exploring my writings. Feel free to write to me about your experiences, views, questions or even collaborations. I hope we meet someday, my friend, out there on the Field of Green.