Two weeks after scoring two goals to lead his high school to its district soccer championship, Mukesh Nath moved from his native Fiji to the other side of the world.
Nath came with his parents to the U.S. in 1978, settling in South San Francisco. He enrolled for his senior year at South San Francisco High School, paving his way in the new culture with a familiar friend: the game of soccer.
The speedy forward started for the varsity team and moved on to Skyline College, where in 1980 he established two school records: four goals in a game (vs. Evergreen College) and 31 goals for the season. Nath won team MVP honors that year and later was inducted into the Skyline College Athletic Hall of Fame.
After graduating with a business degree from San Francisco State University, where he was a two-year starter on the soccer team, Nath embarked on a 25-year career in law enforcement as a San Mateo County sheriff.
Recently, the 50-year-old Nath gathered his family to gain their support in his desire to devote his post-retirement energies to soccer, his original passion.
“My wife, Nalini, and kids said to go for it,” said Nath, who retired from the sheriff’s office in October.
With his family’s blessing, Nath has thrown himself back into the game, no longer as player, but as co-owner and co-coach of the semipro San Francisco Stompers, the newest addition to the National Premier Soccer League.
Currently in negotiations to secure a home field in San Francisco as well as recruit players, coaches, sponsors and administrative personnel, Nath and partner Billy Forte are busily preparing for the start of the 14-game season in April.
“It’s going to be run the old-fashioned way, with good sportsmanship and discipline,” said Nath, who as past chairman of the U.S. Fiji Soccer Association has experience as a team organizer.
With a preliminary roster that includes former players from the L.A. Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes of the MLS, as well as ex-Division I college players, Nath is confident that the Stompers will deliver a top-caliber, competitive game to San Francisco fans, particularly the youth
“My main purpose in being back in soccer is to introduce younger players to a high level of soccer,” Nath said.
His own kids have continued the Nath soccer legacy. Daughter Shalya, a University of Pacific undergrad, was the first girl of East Indian heritage to play varsity soccer at Newark Memorial High School. Son Shane, like his dad a forward, is a senior at Newark Memorial with plans to play collegiate soccer.