Bringing your eyes to the heart to the heat of a composed environment, this photo-documentary piece from Mark Carolan is a pace-setter. Taking in the match day experience of Indonesian team of Bali Utd, we caught up with Mark to get his take on the scene.

Let's start at the beginning, what inspired and led you to Bali Utd?

"Bali has been my base for 4 years now. I met with Yabes Tanuri the owner of Bali Utd last year when we were trying to arrange a tour event with a few European clubs. For numerous reasons the tour has been postponed, but I was blown away by the incredible drive and vision Yabes has, as well as the passionate support the club has amassed in a short period of time. Although the club was founded in 1989 (as Putra Samarinda), it moved from East Kalimantan to Bali and rebranded as Bali United in 2015. I wanted to capture the atmosphere of a brand new club being born on the island."

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As games go, how does it compare to those you have experienced in the past?

"The Indonesia Super League has been temporarily suspended by FIFA so all the Indonesian teams are playing in the Torabika Soccer Championship. But the standard is pretty good - fast paced, wide open play and impressive skills - and the team play with pride for the badge. A lot of the young squad are born on the island so this really is a dream for them."

From pre-match to post match, is there a routine that you could see?

"It must be so different to a typically English game. The routine itself doesn’t differ that much to any other game that I’ve been to. Fans mill around the stadium having a drink and chat (although you only pay 10,000 Rupiah (50p) for a fried rice rather than £5 for a burger). The merchandise touts are aplenty and during the game there’s constant singing and chanting, led by a host of drummers and ringleaders with megaphones. After the match, everyone rides away on a sea of scooters, flags and scarfs flying behind them."

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Were there anything that really struck you about the surroundings and the atmosphere?

"Bali’s home ground - Kapten I Wayan Dipta Stadium - is a 25,000 capacity stadium and all the roads leading to the stadium are lined with coconut trees. Right outside the main entrance is an old farmer knee deep in water planting rice in his paddy field and this really is a reminder that you’re still on a beautiful tropical island. Being the only team in the league based on the island, it makes it hard for away fans to travel so 99% of the fans are wearing the red of Bali United. (There’s 18 teams in the league and they’re all dotted around the many islands of Indonesia, although 8 are based on Java, the main island)."

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It looks beautifully raw, what was it like with camera in hand? Did you come away surprised? Did it go beyond expectations?

"My priority was to capture the incredible support. During the first half I was down below the fans on the running track capturing the wider picture. In the second half, I got in with a rowdy bunch behind the goal. I was the only white face in the crowd and although some of the shots come across as threatening and intimidating, they were extremely welcoming and I didn’t feel at all worried being in there with them."

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What does football mean to you? Your images show just how passionate these fans are.

"I’m a classic clichéd football obsessive and I love to capture that in my work. I’ve been in love with football since watching my first ever game at Celtic Park when I was 7, although I grew up supporting the Man Utd team of the Greenhoffs, Stevie Coppell, Lou Macari and the likes. I’ve been lucky enough to work with big and small teams across the globe and all this has given me a much wider understanding and appreciation of what football means to the fans. Because of this, I no longer hate rival teams as much as I used to!"

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In terms of status, are the players and club out there looked at like superstars in their vicinity?

"The league rules allow each team to sign 3 overseas players and 1 Asian player. (Their 3 overseas players are from Spain, Brazil and Serbia and the Asian player is from South Korea). Because of the rules, the squad is mostly Indonesian and therefore well recognised on the island. But sadly the big posters on the streets still feature European players holding up energy drinks, snack food and grooming products."

There looks to be stories at every turn there, from the snack sellers to the ultras, how would you describe the fans out there?

"The Balinese are a friendly, approachable bunch, made clear when they see an ‘outsider’ taking an interest in their team. They are mostly Hindu, and this is prominent to see with temples placed across the island, including a small one inside the home dressing room. So their matches have a ‘cup final’ friendly atmosphere to it, rather than that of a cold rainy night in Stoke. The North Side Boys are the Ultra-style support for the club. The name simply stating they have a preference to sit in the North Stand to watch the match. Their black ‘uniform’ is taken from the ‘Tridatu’. Tridatu meaning ‘The three colours’ (red, white and black) and each colour representing a different Balinese God. The nickname for Bali United is Serdadu Tridatu (Tridatu Warriors)."

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Bali is so far from European football but it looks like they're inspired by that kind of support, where do you think their influence comes from?

"English football in particular has been massive in Asia for some time. I remember being surprised when a Singapore taxi driver told me he’d supported Wolves since the 70’s and rattled off names like Kenny Hibbitt, Phil Parkes and Steve Bull. It’s fascinating to see so many people in Asia wearing slightly more unusual European football shirts like Lyon, Roma and Aston Villa. Just yesterday I saw a Thai guy wearing an old Nottingham Forest/Labatt’s shirt. The time zone helps a lot, there’s something nice about sitting down to watch a game in a pub at 10pm on a Saturday evening."

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Where next for Bali Utd and indeed your shots, are there any other fixtures out there you've got your eye on?

"My relationship with Bali United is on-going and I’m looking forward to continue documenting their journey. I’m about to start a project with a few Thai teams as their support is also contagious and something I want to capture. And I’m also working on a cool book project, more of that to come later!"

An outstanding collection of imagery that tells so many stories. You can take a look closer at the work of Mark Carolan here.