Contributed by: Tash Gunawardana
Former elite basketball player Lauren Pearce started with basketball but now has successfully made the transition to women’s football. She has called the Melbourne Football Club home since 2016 when she was drafted to the club.
“I was lucky enough to be invited to the draft and had Mum and Dad there with me,” Pearce said. “It was a weird feeling being in a room with great footballer and I was nervous to see what would come about.”
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Pearce took part in a few sports in her early sporting days.
“I had played basketball from the age of five and dabbled in tennis and gymnastics when I was younger as well as many other sports through school,” Pearce said. “There came a point where I had to choose one and stuck to basketball, enjoying the team sport atmosphere the most.”
Pearce had played basketball for an extremely long time and always thought that it would be good to take part in a different sport. “At the start, I enjoyed playing both basketball and footy at the same time but eventually chose to pursue football due to time commitment and not being able to put in as much work as I wanted to with both sports,” Pearce said. “As football was new to me and a new challenge, something I had tow work very hard at to improve it was very appealing for me to continue on that pathway and to see where I could get myself to in it.”
In her sporting career, Pearce’s biggest sporting accomplishments have been winning the WNBL championship and the day she was drafted to Melbourne. For Pearce the best part about playing women’s football is that it means so much to everyone involved. “We are just all happy to be part of something special and working towards something bigger for future generations,” Pearce said. “At Melbourne we all get along and it’s just a great environment to be around.”
Outside of football, Pearce is a full time Early Childhood educator. Juggling life, football and work commitments has been hard for Pearce but she is grateful that she has great people around to support her. “Very hard to juggle life, I have a very supportive workplace now and my partner, family and friends definitely understand the commitment I need to put in to my football.”
There were many talented women’s footballers selected in the AFLW draft last season and it is where Melbourne picked up Tyla Hanks. Pearce believes Tyla Hanks will be the Melbourne player to watch in 2019. “Can’t go past Tyla Hanks, being our number one pick at the draft she has a very mature head on her and has worked very hard through the lead up to the season.”
Pearce loves the Melbourne Football Club. “It’s an amazing environment to be a part of, everyone wants to be there and work hard,” Pearce said. “We have the best club people and all the staff are willing to go above and beyond for anyone.”
Darebin Falcons is the team Pearce plays for in the VFL and it’s where she has developed her footy the most. “It was such a warm and welcoming club that I immediately felt a part of,” Pearce said. “This helped me to feel comfortable and supported seeing as I came in to the sport with barely any knowledge of the game and terrible skills! They spent time with me and were very patient which I appreciate a lot. Being around such talented players and great people allowed me to watch what they did and try an implement them in to my game and the feedback that I was always given helped with this as well.”
Daisy Pearce and Karen Paxman huge names in the AFLW and even bigger names at Melbourne have both influenced the way Pearce plays her football today. “I’ve been lucky enough to play with them through my few VFL (Darebin) seasons and have learnt a crazy amount from them,” Pearce said. “Not only do they know the game well but they lead by example a quality that I admire a lot.”
When it comes to the coach who has had the biggest impact on Pearce’s football career it is Darebin coach Jane Lange. “Being my first ever footy coach and to come in to Darebin completely raw she definitely helped to get me going and establish my skills and knowledge.”
The parts of Pearce’s game that she wants to turn into strengths is to become more attacking on the ball, to make early decisions and to be more aggressive on field.
In AFLW 3.0, Pearce hopes her teammates and her will reap the rewards. “The girls have worked extremely hard leading up to the season and hope that this is rewarded by a great team season, hopefully capped off by a premiership!”
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