Ravi Rana – I chose ATK Mohun Bagan because they are one of the best clubs in India

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On September 30th, 2019, India and Bangladesh locked horns in the SAFF U-18 Championships and with the score tied at 1-1, Ravi Rana produced a moment of brilliance as his 30-yard long screamer crashed into the Bangladesh net and India lifted their maiden SAFF U-18 title. The midfielder who hails from the valleys of Jammu and Kashmir has recently shifted base to the City of Joy after signing for ATK Mohun Bagan.

Ravi is a TATA Football Academy graduate and has been part of the youth teams in the national setup. He has represented India at U-16, U-18 and U-19 levels. Ravi was part of the U-16 team that represented India in the AFC U-16 Championships in Malaysia in 2018, which came ever so close to qualifying on merit for the U-17 World Cup, narrowly losing to South Korea in the quarterfinals. After leaving the TATA football academy, Ravi joined the Jamshedpur FC Reserves team before making his move to Kolkata.

We got in touch with Ravi to talk about his footballing journey, his time in Nepal and at Jamshedpur, his experience of representing his country at youth competitions, his big move to ATK Mohun Bagan and what are his expectations this season.

Ravi Rana

You said in an interview that you moved to Jamshedpur in 2016 to get better opportunities. What do you think Jammu lacked in terms of football that prompted you to move to Jamshedpur?

I went to Jamshedpur for my trial at TATA Football Academy, during that time there was no professional football club in Jamshedpur it was only TFA. I stayed in TFA for 6 months before my call up to the U-16 National Team and that’s how my journey began. I played for the U-16 and U-19 National Team and got selected to play for the Jamshedpur FC Reserves Team and also moved to Nepal to play in the league there and yes that has been my journey so far.

As someone who comes from a non-footballing background, what made you or influenced you to pursue football as a career?

My elder brother used to play football in the gully and the streets and from there I got influenced to play football. My brother didn’t allow me to play with him initially saying I was too young to play but when I grew up, I started playing with him and yes seeing my brother play influenced me to pick football.

Things have moved quite quickly since your move to Jamshedpur. There was the SAFF U15 and U18 Championships, the AFC U16 Championships, the U19 Qualifiers, and a host of other exposure tours. Reflecting on this journey: is it in line with the expectations that you had when you first left Jammu?

When I first got to play for the national team, I was very excited as I was the only player from Jammu and Kashmir and I got to score a hat-trick in my debut match. My coaches in Jammu were very happy with my performance in my debut match and very proud of me and that gave me confidence that I can also perform at a professional level.”

Ravi Rana - I chose ATK Mohun Bagan because they are one of the best clubs in India SAFF U 15 Championship

You have also mentioned earlier that you played in Division A in Nepal. Can you tell us more about that stint?

I played there and I learned a lot while playing for Himalayan Sherpa FC. After the U-18 SAFF Championships in Nepal, they wanted me to come and play for them and I got to learn a lot while playing for them but not many people in India know about the Nepalese league and after my stint with Himalayan Sherpa, I joined ATK Mohun Bagan.”

What has been some key takeaways from your time with Jamshedpur FC’s south side? What did you learn about yourself as a player while at Jamshedpur FC?

In Jamshedpur, I played for their reserve team for a year as I was mostly with the youth National Teams but I got to work with a professional football club and that is my takeaway from my stint with Jamshedpur. Professionalism.

With you being at such a stage of your career where getting regular game time will be very important for your development, what was the reason behind choosing ATK Mohun Bagan as your new club?

I chose them because they are one of the best football clubs in India. I am at a very young age and you get to learn from players at this age. I admire Roy Krishna and how he plays, there is Hugo Boumous and other experienced players in the team from whom I can learn a lot. I felt at ATK Mohun Bagan I will be able to learn and grow as a footballer and that’s why I decided to join here.

A couple of reinforcements have arrived in Mohun Bagan’s attack department, including Hugo, Liston, Kauko, Deepak, Ricky, and Abhishek. Is there anything that you intend to do differently to make yourself stand out from the crowd?

I think if I work hard and learn the ropes of the trade and how the coach wants to play, I think I will impress him enough to give me a chance to play. Also, I want to prove I can play at the professional level and if the coach wants me to play a certain way, I will have to learn that. This is one of the biggest clubs in Indian football and if I want to impress I will have to continuously work hard.”

Up until now, you have mostly played in youth leagues and teams. Do you view the AFC Cup campaign, as well as the current preseason, as a test to see if you’re ready for the next step?

I think I am ready now. I have had a lot of exposure since the U-16 level representing the National team. We have been to 13 to 14 countries and played football there. We were so close to qualifying for the U-17 World Cup while playing the AFC U-16 Championships in Malaysia. We could have beaten Korea in the quarterfinal and played the World Cup but we lost 1-0 to a late goal and I believe if we had qualified for the World Cup it would have been a different feeling but I have experienced loss at a very young age and I think that makes me mentally strong to break into a professional team like ATK Mohun Bagan.”

Is someone like Sumit Rathi an example for you or someone who you look up to, given that how he managed to break into the first eleven at an age similar to yours after coming through the reserves?

Yes, he was with me at the U-19 level and we are good friends too. He impresses me with how he plays and it is good for me that he is at the same club as we were friends before it will help me settle in the new team and adjust with the team and that is a plus point for me.”

Ravi Rana - I chose ATK Mohun Bagan because they are one of the best clubs in India 8035279416 6013274589

How does the feeling of possibly playing in the Kolkata Derby excite you?

Kolkata Derby is always amazing. There will be a lot of pressure along with other things and I think the team that plays with its heart out, the team that gives the most effort will be the most rewarded. That is my point of view but yes there will be pressure most definitely.

We saw what happened in the game against Nasaf in the AFC Cup. Are you optimistic about the team’s ability to bounce back?

It’s part and parcel of the game and we have to learn from it. We had a bad day but this is professional football, if you lose you have to learn from your mistakes and perform better in the next game and win. We have realised our mistakes and our weaknesses and I think the team will do better in the ISL.

Being a player who plays in an attacking position, how has the experience been so far mingling with players of the stature of Hugo Boumous, Joni Kauko, and Roy Krishna?

I learn every day from them. They always motivate and advise me on how to improve my game on the field and they guide me off it too. It is very good for me as I am getting to learn from the best.”

The young midfielder would be sharing the dressing room with some of the biggest names and brightest talents of Indian football at one of the biggest clubs in Indian football. Quite a start for a young player signing his first professional contract. It will be interesting to see how much he features in Habas’ plans this season and when he makes his debut in the ISL. All these questions will be answered in the near future but we are all very sure that Ravi has a great future and professional career ahead of him.

Follow our website for the latest updates on Indian Football.

Ravi Rana - I chose ATK Mohun Bagan because they are one of the best clubs in India 56fb38f3c1c9ed48d2f536dd87e391c8?s=96&d=monsterid&r=g
Sayan Mukherjee
An ardent sports fan. Swears by Arsenal and Mohun Bagan. IT slave aspiring to be a writer.

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