Natasha Keen has always been a bright prospect when it came to football, being awarded the JFA Sid Guy Award and being named in her first ever Muratti in the space of 10 days at the age of 16.
She has since gone to America looking to further her football development.
Daniel Andrade caught up with Keen and spoke about how she got into football, who her idols were and Keen’s experiences over in Mississippi so far as she looks to further her football development to the next level.
Here is what Keen had to say:
Have you always been into sport?
Yeah I was always into sport. Whenever I was in school I always tried to take part in every sport that I could. Netball, rounders and hockey were always there, but I always loved football the most.
What was your first memory of football?
I would always play in the garden as there would always be a football there. I loved it. My first big memory from watching football on the TV was the Champions League final between Liverpool and AC Milan which was really good to watch as a Liverpool fan.
You are a Liverpool fan – has that always been the case?
There has always been a rivalry between me and my uncles because they are Manchester United supporters. I don’t despise Manchester United but they are not my favourite. There has always been that rivalry between me and my family about that!
Who have been your favourite players growing up?
One would be Steven Gerrard, mainly for his attitude and leadership. For skills it would have to be Lionel Messi. I love that guy.
Do you remember when you first joined Jersey Wanderers?
I must have been fourteen when I joined the boys team. That was fun, I got them into one of their finals which was nice. Unfortunately we lost it. It is always different playing with boys as there can be some which don’t appreciate you because you’re the only girl in the team. I played with St Peters boys before Wanderers and it helped because I knew most of them so I was more comfortable. All of the guys I played with were nice.
How much of a whirlwind was it winning the Sid Guy award and being named in the Muratti squad within 10 days?
It was crazy! It all came around so quickly. At first I didn’t know I was going to win the Sid Guy award as it has always been a close contest between me and some other players so to win it was nice. To get the first call up was special. The first session was a week after, it was quite a lot to get used to, but I loved it.
How big is the Muratti for you? Highlight of the season?
As a 16 year old to play in my first Muratti, it was huge. Unfortunately we couldn’t get it this year but hopefully it will be back in the years to come. It is our biggest game of the season and you simply want to win it. Let’s hope it is back next year.
The Island Games too – how good are they?
I have been to two Island Games. Gotland in 2017 which was my first one and we won bronze. That was great because I played every game, but got injured in our bronze medal match. Starting for your island is such a privilege and I was nervous as I was the youngest player on the team at the time, but it was amazing. I scored our first goal in our first game, it was great! The standard we played against was high, I was surprised. Not knowing who we were playing brought a different challenge for me too as I wasn’t worrying about who we were facing so could concentrate on my own game. I really enjoy it.
You moved off to America – firstly how hard was it to leave Jersey?
I always knew that I didn’t want to stay here so it was an easy decision for me. The process itself was stressful such as contacting colleges and everything that goes with that. My heart was set and I didn’t want to look back though.
How good a move has it been for you?
I am in Mississippi in a Junior College so that standard is high but not as high as other divisions. It did take me a while to get settled in as usual but now I just want to get back and gives me more of an urge to keep succeeding with the team.
How much has it developed your football?
The game over there is very different. There is a lot more emphasis on fitness and as a result my fitness has improved a lot. My awareness has improved a lot too, from where the ball has to go and my own positioning. I do love it.
Are your teammates like family?
At first it was daunting because they were older than me and I didn’t know them. I also had difficulties with room mates too but by the time I was two months in I loved it. I call them family and I do miss them.
Were you over there when Covid-19 first came around?
I had only been back for around a month and a half, and was just starting my Spring break when my coach rang me saying ‘you need to get on a flight otherwise you are stuck here’ and it was very stressful from the on. I managed to get back before lockdown restrictions kicked in, but it was two days of a lot of stress not only for me but my parents!
How much are you edging to get back?
I am so desperate to get back! We have our Spring Season coming up which has been moved to March so I am itching to go back. Everyone there is training and I am stuck here but hopefully I will be back at the end of January if all things go as planned!
How long do you have left over in America?
I am currently looking to transfer. I am not totally sure where yet but I am talking to colleges. I have two more years until I finish my degree, whether I stay over there, I am unsure yet and I am taking one thing at a time.
You are currently playing for Wanderers – how has the season started?
We had one pre-season game against Rozel and that was a 4-4 draw and we did well in that game. We then beat Grouville despite being a bit complacent at the start. We lost on penalties to St Lawrence which is just 50/50 luck and this time we were unfortunate. Everything is going well so far, we just want to win that title and other trophies – we will get there.
Finally, what is next for you after your degree is complete?
I do want to take football to the highest level and standard that I can get to, be that in America or back in England. For now I am focusing on me, and what I want to do and if that will be professional football further down the line, we will see. That dream is always there.
A big thanks to Tash for her time. All at Sportscast Jersey are looking forward to following the progress of yet another brilliant footballing talent coming from the island. Good luck!