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Tessa targets international stage

Camden Town FC’s captain is closing in on her ‘dream’ of playing for Malta

24 January, 2020 — By Charles Woodham

Tessa Craver

SHOCKED Tessa Craver has edged a step closer to fulfilling her “dream” of playing for her country after being invited to trial for the Malta women’s national football team.

The Camden Town FC captain was encouraged by her coaches and team-mates to send a video of her in action for the club to the Malta FA.

The 28-year-old says she was “stunned” when they replied, offering her the opportunity to join the national squad at a training camp in March.

“I’ve dreamt of playing for Malta ever since I got my Maltese citizenship when I was 18,” said Tessa, who lives in Kentish Town. “When I was growing up I knew girls at school and university who were playing for Scotland Under-20s and some who were in the Colombian national set-up.

“Seeing these other girls play for their nation made me think how cool it would be to be able to play for Malta. It’s been a dream I’ve been chasing ever since.”

Originally from North Carolina, Tessa was introduced to football when she was just five years ­old, playing regularly in a pre-school children’s competition called the Rainbow League. By the age of 14, she was being tipped to reach the very top of the sport, and even earned a place within the US Olympic Development Programme.

She gained a full scholarship to Lynn University in Florida, and for the first time in her life she was being paid to play the game that she loves. But balancing intensive training with full-time studying took its toll – she suffered burnout and eventually decided to take a step back from football and return to North Carolina to focus on her studies.

Not long after moving to London in 2017, Tessa, who works in the NHS as an occupational therapist, stumbled upon Camden Town FC’s training sessions at Regent’s Park, and now dedicates her weekends to playing for the club in Division Three North of the Greater London Women’s League.

The side stands out not only for their slick passing and team play, but also for their stunning kit celebrating famous women with connections to Camden.

Camden Town FC were winners at the weekend, beating Alexandra Park 4-1

Designed by Bodil Jane, the strip features images of writers Sylvia Plath and Buchi Emecheta, sculptor Dame Barbara Hepworth and the suffragist Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett.

In their latest league outing on Sunday, Tessa led by example as she opened the scoring away at Alexandra Park Women with a stunning 35-yard free-kick.

The skipper also recorded three assists, setting up star striker Heather McIntosh for a hat-trick as Camden Town sealed a resounding 4-1 victory.

The result leaves them fourth in a league of nine, with four wins, a draw and two defeats from their opening seven games.

Camden will be confident of netting their fifth win of the season this weekend when they host Hackney Reserves at Regent’s Park.

Against Alexandra Park Tessa put in the type of performance that she is hoping will now see her go from playing in the park to playing for Malta at the Centenary Stadium in Ta’ Qali.

However, with her birthday approaching, Tessa, who qualifies to play for Malta on her mother’s side, admits she feared the opportunity to represent her country had passed her by.

She said: “I’m going to be 29 next month, so I thought ‘am I getting too old for this?’ But then I found out that the captain of Malta, Dorianne Theuma, is 35. They also have a lot of other girls in the squad who are in their late twenties, so I just thought why not?

“When I was living in the US it was harder to dream about playing for Malta, it wasn’t like I could just hop on a quick flight, it was a little more challenging than that.

“But now that I’m in London it’s a real possibility. I’m really excited and just can’t wait for the trials to come around.”

Tessa says playing for Camden Town has already given her the chance to experience international football.

She added: “The club is a very international team, which is what sets them apart from the rest of the league. We have girls from France, Italy and Portugal.

“We also have a wide age range of players, from youngsters who are just 16, all the way up to our oldest player who is 45! I think that’s what made me love the club so much when I joined.”

Camden Town FC are always searching for experienced players to help strengthen their squad. Anyone interested can email Tessa and the team at camdenfootballclub@gmail.com with their details for further information.

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