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Written by:
Paul Holland
22 Feb 2023

Meet the Women’s President of the university football club (CUAFC). Fresh from a 4-1 victory against Exeter (that put them into the semis of the BUCS National Cup) Neve Mayes stopped off at the Aula Coffee Shop to talk about footie, her studies, music… and being a twin.

What position do you play?

I’ve been playing centre forward most of the season but I rotate a bit.

When did you start playing football?

I’ve played as long as I remember whether just joining the boys in the playground at primary school. At end of primary school I looked for proper teams to play with: starting with Hampstead Ladies and then Watford Ladies (I’m from North London). My dad used to play so I guess he’s the one in the family who inspired me: but other siblings are not that sporty. I’ve a twin brother. Matthew, but he’s more musical than sporty: he’s doing the same subject as me at Cambridge (History in third year). He’s at Queens’.

What’s it like playing for the university?

I’ve loved playing at university. It kept me sane during the pandemic. I love the team; it’s nice to have players around you and it’s a good outlet from the academic side of life. We’ve a really strong team this year. When I started in the first year it was difficult as there was no University league, but we still trained when we could. I played for the Trinity Hall team a little bit and I was looking forward to playing in the Varsity match that year but I injured myself: it was quite a blow and it was hard being out of things for so long so I’ve really loved it this year.

Who’s your favourite player and which team do you support?

I’m an Arsenal fan which is a pretty good thing to be this season. I quite like Cesc Fabregas, ex-Arsenal, but if we’re talking about younger players; I like Bukayo Saka. The Lioness’ victory last Summer has been massive, and I’ve noticed it translate to the sport here as well. When we have trials this year we had a lot of young women turn up and their game was of a good quality. We’ve created a third team in last two seasons to encourage the link between College sport and the University team.

What do you study?

History! While here I’ve really enjoyed early modern history. For my dissertation I looked at Riot in the English Civil War and the Interregnum. I was so lucky to have be supervised by Dr Clare Jackson earlier in my course at Trinity Hall: she is a giant in that field so it’s great as a student to be able to work with people like her. I really like Trinity Hall overall. For me it’s a very friendly College. Even through the pandemic I feel like we got closer in a way.

How do you fit in training with studies: what’s the commitment like?

Ha-ha: well, I do music as well so my music and sport outside of academia are important. It can be a lot but I feel it makes me more focussed when I return to my academic work. I think you need a bit of time away to be energised when you get back. I play the trumpet and play in the Uni orchestra. The other benefit of doing so much is you make great friends while you’re here.

I am also Women’s President of the Football Club. That came about after I was Vice-Captain of the Blues last year and a couple of people suggested it to me. Football has been such a big part of my time here so it’s nice to give back. There’s a variety of things for the President to do, from making sure things run smoothly, to making sure the new coach was appointed. The biggest things is the Varsity match so there’s lots of getting organised with the club ground we’ll be playing at (Leyton Orient) and the Oxford presidents.

What do you see yourself doing in the future?

Not sure where I’ll be next year… whatever else I’ll still be playing football.

The Varsity match will be held on March 19 at Leyton Orient’s ground. Ticket information will be released shortly.

To read more about Neve’s last match (in which she scored two of the four Cambridge goals!) see Varsity’s match coverage.

Sports photo by Dik Ng.