Anita Tavares is an impressive young island footballer who is set to make a big step from little Jersey to America at the end of July.
Dan Andrade sat down with the Rozel Rovers forward about how she got into football, recovering from a long spell on the touchline and how much she is looking forward to the move.
Have a read of the full interview below!
Have you always been into your sport since a young age?
Yeah definitely! I have been playing football since I was around 6 year old and growing up throughout school I took part in any sport available to me. Being active has been and is a big part of my life but football has always been the main sport for me.
What are your first memories of football?
My dad used to take me to FB Fields to play football almost every day so that is where I developed a passion for the sport. I support Manchester United so I looked up to players such as David Beckham and Paul Scholes. They were just amazing footballers and they were midfielders just like I wanted to be.
How about in Jersey – are there any players you look up to here?
To name two, Eve Watson and Jodie Botterill. They are both incredible players. Both of them have really helped me grow as a player and also a person. They have both been a big part in Rozel’s season this year as well, Eve with the goals and creativity and Jodie with her leadership, but also the fact she can play anywhere so well. They are both big role models.
Tell us about your recent injury. How much did it knock you back and how good is to be back playing?
The year out was pretty difficult. I tore a ligament in my groin at the beginning of last season. It was hard physically in terms of physio treatment for 14 months, but also mentally, not being able to play. It was hard to watch Rozel train and play week in week out knowing you couldn’t join in with them. It has given me a few setbacks. For example I am now a little nervous when I play, but I have recovered and have played some games in the second half of the season which is brilliant. In my first game back I scored in a semi-final so that was a great moment.
How good has this season been for Rozel?
We have had such a great season, winning the quadruple. I think as a team we deserve it though. We have worked very hard for it. We knew we would have new faces at the start of the season with the younger girls coming through, but I don’t think any of us expected we would do what we did. I am not surprised by the impact the likes of Macey, Danny and Leah did have, they are quality players.
When did the idea of you going to America come about?
I heard a few years ago now about how much football, or soccer as they call it, was growing in America and the thought of training every day and playing games twice a week at such a high level sounded a bit like a dream to me. I feel very fortunate to be in the position I am in. It was definitely a no brainer for me. When you get an opportunity like this there is no decision and you should just go for it. It was a stressful process. I had to research scholarships, call coaches of teams and think about degrees. There is a lot that is involved.
How much of an influence knowing other islanders have made the same move before?
It is great and did help. I am in contact with Natasha Keen almost every day and she loves it out there. I have asked her plenty of questions and she has been really helpful. The move to America has had a great influence on her so hopefully it will be the same for me.
Where are you heading?
I am going to Goshen College in Indiana, and I will be heading there at the end of July. I am very excited to get going and begin the experience. I think I am ready to get away from the island and challenge myself though!
How far do you want to go in football?
I know it is a bit cliché, but I just want to push myself and go as far as I can. I am going over to play at a good level and test myself, so I am excited to do that.
How much would you encourage young girls to keep playing their football?
It is great to see St Lawrence and Jersey Wanderers pushing to join Rozel in creating platforms where young girls can go and play football from a young age. It is something I never had when I was younger and wish I did. Having coached a lot working for the JFA Link Girls PDC you can see they love football and that is brilliant to see. I hope they keep playing and enjoying themselves.