Interview Tash Stephens

TASH STEPHENS

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Personal Details

Club:
Crawley Wasps Ladies
Full Name:
Tash Stephens
Nationality:
English
Date of Birth:
27-08-1994
Place of birth:
Somerset
Position:
Winger
Shirt number:
16

Career

2015-2016
Portsmouth FC Ladies
2018-2019
Chichester City LFC
2019-
Crawley Wasps Ladies

Interview

Introduce yourself… Who are you?

My name is Tash, I play on the wing for Crawley Wasps.

Tell us about your career to date – where have you played your football?

I started my adult career in Somerset, before moving to University in London. Whilst there I briefly played for QPR and Denham before moving to the south coast and joining Portsmouth FC. After three seasons there I moved to Chichester for a year and a half, before joining Crawley Wasps for this season.

Why did you start playing football?  And were you immediately a midfielder?

I actually started playing because my best friend in school wanted to watch the World Cup, I went along with her because we got to leave lessons and watch in the hall. I quickly fell in love with it and was soon playing in the playground with the boys.
When I first joined a team I was a defender, before being moved into centre midfield and then a striker. I went the opposite way than most people, they’re usually moved backwards! When I joined Portsmouth I played as a centre midfielder, before being moved to the wing. I’ve remained there since… I’m sure my teammates are glad that I’m not still a defender now!

How do you prepare for an (important) competition? (music, rituals, etc.) And why ?

I actually have a routine that I stick to before every match, regardless of the competition, I try not to change it too much. If I’m at home I like to have meatballs the night before a game. and I am religious about my coffee intake the morning of a match. I can’t play without one. I have a match day Spotify playlist that I like to listen to as close to the game as possible.

The weirdest thing about my routine is when I’m putting my boots and socks on in the changing room. If they don’t feel right I’ll keep taking them off and putting them back on until I’m satisfied with how they feel. I’ll take them off in the warm up sometimes as well.  It’s probably really annoying if you sit next to me in the changing room but I just get so claustrophobic and agitated otherwise. It’s why I wear my socks so low too.

Tash, you have played for Chichester City LFC. How did you experience these period?

Playing for Chichester was great, I got to work under Smithy (Aaron Smith) for a longer period of time than a brief spell together at Portsmouth. I learnt so much from him in that time so I was eager to play under him more. That doesn’t take away from the rest of the coaches there though, Matt was manager when I joined and I learnt from him from day one.

Last season we had a really good run of results, that put us in contention for the title. That, along with playing with a group of people that I was so close with, is something that I’ll always look back on with fond memories.

Current you are playing Crawley Wasps LFC. Why did you leave Chichester City LFC ?

We were told of the new direction that Chichester were planning on going in, in the upcoming season, and the manager and coaching staff were all leaving, so it seemed like a good time for me to leave the club.

I’ve stayed on good terms with everyone there at Chi, which is lucky considering we’ve met them a few times this season in the league and the cup!

What is the best thing about playing for Crawley Wasps LFC?

The girls are amazing, they made me feel welcome from my first session (despite getting some stick from when I’d played them a couple times last season!).

The manager and the coaches are really supportive to us all. Paul and all the coaches are incredibly encouraging and allow us to express ourselves on the pitch whilst encouraging us to always give 100% of our best. Personally, I felt that when I first walked out on the pitch for Crawley I had re-found my spark and started playing like myself again.

I played Crawley twice the season before I joined, and they were probably one of the toughest sides I faced. So when I talked to Paul in the summer it was really a no brainer to join.

An added bonus is that our home pitch this season is play less than 5 minutes from my house, although that gives me no excuse not to be late!

You have played at several football clubs. At which club did you learned the most?

I’ve learnt from every club and learnt different things at each which I think has been really good for my development.

I think the big one for me was Portsmouth. They were reigning league champions and took a chance on me when I was completely unknown and had no experience at this level. They gave me my debut in this league which I’m grateful for, and gave me the opportunity to grow into the league and learn a lot about what playing at this level takes.

What were your highs and lows during your football career?

I’ve always found it works best for me to not focus too much on the highs or lows, but to just enjoy and appreciate the highs when they happen and learn from the lows.

When I think back on my highs they’re often personal moments that stand out to me.  For example, the first time I scored for my very first football team. I was the youngest there and hadn’t scored in a match, the girls and parents were willing me to score, then one game I scored my first goal and then 6 more in the same game. I’ll always remember the parents reactions on the side-lines – I’m sure it was the first game my mum hadn’t come to so I think I blamed her!  Other moments are scoring at Fratton Park, playing alongside my best friends and celebrating moments together. Even getting the chance to play against my closest friends.  This season has also been a highlight, being top of the league for so much of the season and becoming one of the teams to beat.

The low that stands out to me the most is not getting back in to the Somerset Centre of Excellence when I was younger.  I had had what I had felt was my best season to date, so to not get in was something I took quite hard. However, it ultimately pushed me to work harder and gave me the opportunity to play senior football at a younger age. I got kicked to pieces on my first few games, I couldn’t walk! But it gave me some really valuable lessons.

Tash, what are your personal goals for the rest of this season?

Well, due to our league now being made void, I guess it’s just to put my feet up and relax!

Our goals were to finish as high in the league as possible, we were taking one game at a time and were on course to a top two finish, and hopefully winning the league. We’ll have to refocus again for next season and set ourselves high targets, whilst understanding teams around us are going to be strengthening as well.

In all seriousness, right now I’m looking back at the last season and assessing a few areas of my game to see where I need to improve and how I can improve.  On top of that it’s just about getting as fit as possible.  I have a mini home gym at which is getting more use than ever, and am just looking to keep my sharpness up so I can be in the best condition possible when we’re next able to play.

I just need to stay out of the kitchen and try not to eat too much!


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