While cricket star, Jess Cameron, may have stolen the headlines for her electrifying six-goal display on the MCG last Sunday, there was another code-switcher whose rise through the football ranks has been just as remarkable.
Lauren Pearce plays state basketball for the Bulleen Boomers and late last year, with her good mate Brooke Patterson, decided to give footy a try by joining in pre-season training at the Darebin Falcons. From there, Pearce (no relation to Daisy) put her name down for the AFL’s National Talent Search, which in turn earned her a place in the AFL Victoria Women’s Academy.
The fast tracking of Pearce’s football development has paid dividends for her VFL club Darebin. Pearce has been a revelation in the ruck with her bodywork and endurance and has proved she can hit the scoreboard as well.
Now, in just her sixth game of football ever, Lauren Pearce can add ‘playing for an AFL club on the MCG’ to her growing list of football achievements. Not bad for someone who didn’t even have football on the radar 12 months ago.
“I was never even considering football 12 months ago, until I decided to go down (to training) with someone and from there it’s been great. I just can’t believe it.” She told Change Her Game after the match.
While the Melbourne versus Brisbane Lions match was at a faster pace than what she’s been exposed to at VFL level, Pearce again took this next challenge in her stride.
“At club level, obviously the girls know that I’m new and help me a bit. But, because the ground’s so big, you don’t have those people around you all the time… But by the end I was sort of starting to get used to it and finding my feet.”
For Pearce, it has been an unexpected, yet pleasant surprise that the AFL women’s competition is set to go national. Better still, the AFL has committed to accommodating dual sport athletes, which will allow Pearce to continue with her basketball too.
“I had no idea this was happening when I came to footy and the fact that I’ve been given this opportunity and been able to work with the best coaches, players and staff, it’s that next step. Obviously, any sport I want to play, I want to get to the highest level I can. So, I like to push myself and work hard for those, so hopefully I can get a gig.”