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Tatiana Saunders: Lewes FC goalkeeping and a finance career

Tatiana Saunders is a goalkeeper for Lewes FC, the first football club in the world to pay their women’s team the same wages as their men’s team.

Tatiana grew up in a small town called Rye, just outside New York and began playing football at the age of 6. She initially played for her school team and eventually, various clubs in the New York and New Jersey area.

During this time, she also played for the English Youth National Team and then went on to play all four years at University – Dartmouth College. Upon graduating from Dartmouth, she was given the opportunity to work in finance or play professionally.

After three years of working in sales and trading on Wall Street, Tatiana decided to return to football. Since then, she has had the opportunity to play in Iceland, France and England.

Sportageous caught up with Tatiana Saunders to discuss football, her career in finance at Wall Street and much more.

Tatiana Saunders in the stadium.
Tatiana Saunders: Lewis FC goalkeeper. Source: Supplied.

Kinza Tahir: You have an impressive academic back ground, you’ve graduated from Dartmouth College. You also worked at Wall Street. What was the inspiration behind your change in profession?

Tatiana Saunders: I missed playing a lot. I also came to realise that I could work in something like finance later in life, but the window of opportunity to play football was limited – it was really a now or never decision and I went for it.

Having not played for three years, I was at a massive disadvantage and I had to work really hard to get noticed. I was fortunate enough that a club in Iceland saw my potential and took a chance on me.

I found the US and France play a little more direct, whereas in Iceland and England the keeper is expected to act as an eleventh field player using their feet more and looking to build from the back.

What is your future football career alongside your professional life? How do you plan on taking the two along?

Right now I am playing as well as pursuing an MBA. Ideally, I would like to play for as long as possible and also at the highest level possible. After football, I would like to continue to work with sports but perhaps on the corporate side, such as working for a particular sports brand or team.

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Tatiana Saunders stops a goal.
Tatiana Saunders of Lewes FC saves a goal. Source: Supplied

Tell me a little bit about your time at the New York Athletic club?

The New York Athletic Club is a fantastic club, one of the best, if not the most celebrated in the US. I first started representing the club on the field at the age of 13, and have played with them off and on since that time, when I have been in the US.

They compete in the second tier of women’s football – The Women’s Premier Soccer League and the competition is pretty good.

There will be setbacks and frustration along the way, but be persistent, be patient, keep working hard and plugging away. Adversity will make you a better player and a better human being.

What, in your opinion, makes an excellent football player?

Determination for me is key. So many players are talented, but to excel it needs something more. Determination which then drives a great work ethic and the desire to be the best.

Teamwork and the ability to work as part of a single cohesive unit is also incredibly important.

What has been your most memorable moment at a match you’ve played?

That’s a difficult question to answer as I have had many memorable matches over the years. I suppose if I were to pick one, it would be this past year against Olympique Lyonnais in the French Cup in front of almost 3,000 fans.

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Do you have a special routine or superstition before you play a big game?

I like to eat Skittles during the game. The original flavour. It’s something I have done ever since I was very young.

You’ve played in England, Iceland and the United States of America. In terms of technique how does the game differ all around the globe?

There are definitely different styles of play, especially as a goalkeeper. I found the US and France play a little more direct, whereas in Iceland and England the keeper is expected to act as an eleventh field player using their feet more and looking to build from the back.

What appealed to you the most when you represented Fimleikafélag Hafnarfjarðar?

Well, it was my first contract as a professional athlete. It was a massive time of growth for me, not just in terms of ability and skill because I was still getting used to returning to the game, but I also had to deal with living in an unfamiliar country where I didn’t speak the local language.

Fortunately the Icelandic people are really welcoming, as well!

Tatiana Saunders passes the ball.
Tatiana Saunders for Lewes FC. Source: Supplied

Any advice for aspiring athletes out there?

As my older brother often quotes ‘who dares, wins’ so don’t be afraid to defy the odds. It may take time to achieve your goals and where you want to be but it will be worth it when you do.

There will be setbacks and frustration along the way, but be persistent, be patient, keep working hard and plugging away. Adversity will make you a better player and a better human being.


Follow Tatiana Saunders on Twitter, Instagram or visit the Lewis FC website here.
For more Football (Soccer) related content, visit Sportageous.
Kinza Tahir assisted in the curation of this article. You can follow her here on Twitter.

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