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”It was surreal on Sunday (against Arsenal) - Caitlin Hayes​

After a fantastic performance against Arsenal in The F.A Cup this weekend, we caught up with NGS client and Lewes central defender Caitlin Hayes.

Caitlin, 24, signed for Lewes at the start of this season after spending the last 5 years away from her home in Warrington whilst studying in America and then moving to play Champions League football with Barcelona FA in Cyprus. Caitlin’s performances this season have been as strong as ever, including a stand out performance this weekend against Arsenal in The F.A Cup.

Moving leagues often includes a transition period of adaptation but Caitlin has fitted straight back into English football. We asked Caitlin about the transition back to England and she told us “It’s been a learning experience that I’m better because of. I feel like my game has improved this year more than any previously and that’s a credit to the environment at Lewes by all the players and staff but also to the opposition that we play week in week out. A transition of any kind is usually one that holds challenges whether they be seen or unseen but however they may come, I’m better because of it.”

Caitlin signed with NGS whilst playing for Barcelona FA in Cyprus, so not only did Caitlin have to adapt to a different environment and culture when moving back to England, but she also had to adapt to a different style of football. “I would say the biggest difference that I’ve experienced is the tactical side of the game, not that European football lacks tactical thinking but just how in depth the English game is thought out, broken down, analysed and critiqued. The English game, again in my opinion, is a lot more physical, which is something I’ve enjoyed embracing. It would also be wrong for me not to mention the weather! Playing, training and conditioning seems to elevate you to new levels of enjoyment when the suns beaming down on you and you’re not greeted by a dark, cold, freezing English night” Caitlin jokes.

After signing for Lewes many people were asking us about Caitlin and what they could expect from her this season in The Women’s Championship, with one of our Management Team quoting “Caitlin has everything in the locker to be one of the best central defenders in England. Physically, not many people will be able to compete with her”. After yesterday’s performance against Arsenal, we walked into the office this Monday morning to several messages saying we were right with our judgement. Caitlin added “I think it’s important to surround yourself with people that believe in you. NGS have demonstrated that from the matter how wild I find their comments, they’re never short of some positive reinforcements. I hope one day to fulfil their words but right now it’s a constant effort to become better one day at a time.”

Speaking to Caitlin about yesterday’s performance against Arsenal, Caitlin heaped the praise onto the whole team at Lewes by saying “It was surreal on Sunday. Our team as a whole from the starting 11 to the bench were great. We really came together as a team and performed in a manner that meant we could hold our heads high after the game. I was thankful that I was able to contribute to our teams performance and it’s encouraging to hear all the positive feedback. It was mad to be marking players that I’d spent my summer watching in the World Cup. I was grateful to test myself against some of the worlds best.”

In the summer last season, Caitlin had several offers on the table from clubs across Europe including Champions League clubs, we asked Caitlin about last summer and the thought process before signing for Lewes, Caitlin followed by saying “If I’m honest, I didn’t really have my heart or mind set on the English leagues, being away from home for 5 years I didn’t really know where I’d end up. Home to me has become so many places and as long as I was playing football I was content. Me and Reece spoke in the summer about Lewes, I got comfortable with living in the sun, my whole life in one suitcase, language barriers and embracing new cultures. I came to the final decision by my constant need to be challenged, tested and pushed to be better and I thought the English leagues would be the best place for me to do that and I’m so thankful for Lewes and Fran Alonso for taking that chance on me.”

We end this interview by asking Caitlin what is the one thing that she can’t live without - “My faith and my family are the forefront of everything I do and without those I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today.”

If you’re interested in working with NGS, or if you’d like a private and confidential chat with our Management Team, simply click on the ‘Contact Us’ button below and one of our team will contact you within 48 hours.

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