Still kickin it


University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff women’s soccer coach Rohan Naraine is excited to be back on the soccer field preparing his squad to defend their 2011 SWAC title.

Actually, Naraine is happy to still be kicking it on the green side of the grass.

After accepting the head coaching position in April, Naraine was found in his hotel room less than a month into his tenure, unresponsive and near death after his wife couldn’t reach the Guyana native on the phone.

“I had been knocked out from Friday until Sunday when they found me,” Naraine recalled. “My wife called the hotel and they came in and found me.”

Naraine was rushed to University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock where he was diagnosed with a Group B blood infection. The infection initially landed in his knee, the same knee he had surgery on 27 years prior, and eventually spread to his heart, where it ate away at the organ, forcing surgeons to replace three valves.

“I don’t know where the infection came from,” Naraine said. “But I had a great doctor from Russia that took care of me. He said only one in five even survive from this. So I feel lucky to be alive.”

While in the hospital, Naraine was unable to conduct business and was informed later that the recruiting class he had developed opted for other avenues.

“When they didn’t hear from me they went somewhere else,” Naraine said.

But Naraine finally emerged from his illness and is now poised to continue leading the soccer program after rehabilitating his knee and gaining enough strength to proceed.

The squad hits the practice field on Friday with two returning starters. Naraine also has four others who garnered playing time last year, but lost all three defenders and a pair of goalies who decided to transfer. He has since recruited three junior college transfers to fill some voids and has welcomed Jonesboro’s Aerial West, who walked on as a goalie.

“I don’t know how good she is but she’s a good athlete,” Naraine said of West. “She was coming to school here so we let her walk on. And the three girls that left were the whole back line. But we have some other players that can play there. The ones that stayed have great attitude and it’s my job to fit those pieces together like a puzzle.”

Naraine joined Arkansas-Pine Bluff after spending the past two season at St. Andrews College, where he served as the head women’s soccer coach both years. Prior to coaching at St. Andrews, Naraine was the head women’s soccer coach at Coastal Carolina University, where he compiled a 48-29-7 overall record. In his seasons at CCU, he produced a 23-8-2 league record, captured two Big South Conference championships (2007, 2008), made two Big South Tournament finals appearances and was named the 2007 Big South Coach of the Year.

He said he would take the talent he has and find success.

“One thing we do have is a great attitude and great camaraderie,” Naraine said. “The ones that are here have molded together. That’s sometimes the hardest thing to do. We did that so now we can just train. I will take a group of girls like that over a group of superstars any day.”

Naraine brings a wealth of coaching knowledge to the Lady Lions’ soccer program, having served as a staff member of the men’s and women’s Guyana National Team that competes in the CONCACAT region. In 1999, he was chosen to the coaching staff of the Guyana men’s soccer Olympic soccer team. Naraine holds a FIFA Olympic License along with his NSCAA National Coaching License. Naraine and his wife Nalini are the proud parents of a daughter Nikki (10).