8 May 2020 – Lauren Duncan leads operations off the field for the South African Women’s National team, she’s spoke to Josh Bunting about her role and the rise of Women’s Football in the country.

Over recent years the rise of South African Women’s football has been phenomenal as they became 2018 CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations runners-up and reached last summers World Cup in France.

Lauren Duncan, for five years has been responsible for the off field preparation and administration of the side and really is their true off the pitch hero.

Speaking on her adventure into football Duncan explained “My family were always involved in football, so I spent many days, nights and weekends at the field helping in Tuckshop duties, officiating games, and coaching pee wees. I also started playing football at our local indoor facility, and joined a women’s team before finally playing in the highest league for women in the country (at the time), the semi-professional Sasol League”.

Known as Banyana Banyana South Africa reached their first World Cup in 2019 speaking about her feelings and experience in France Duncan said “The World Cup Out of this world! The World Cup is the definitely the World showcase that everyone wants to be part of, especially if you work in the Sport”.

“It was an honour for me to be able to represent my Country especially at our debut appearance, and it was such a memorable experience that I will forever be grateful for. Although for me, it is much the same, but of course on a much bigger scale, with regards to the administration side of things as we prepare for each match, and tournament in similar ways”

Speaking about what she does in her day to day role Duncan said “ADMINISTRATION…. Hahaha! I put emphasis on that word, because that is exactly what my day looks like.

I am involved in the day to day running of the team, ensuring that all aspects are covered, from preparing the camps to finalising the camp at the end. These include Transport, Meals, Kit, Equipment, Accommodation, etc”.

Asked how did she get into her role with the South African National team Duncan said “I was involved in Women’s football administration for many years and in 2015 I was appointed as the youth women’s team (U17 & U20) administrator, and in 2016 was appointed the team Administrator for the Senior team”.

Duncan is certainly the off field driving force for South African Women’s football speaking about the growth of the game in the country she said “Women’s football in South Africa is definitely growing”.

“School football has also taken off, and club football has now finally reached a National League which is something that we as a Country have been waiting for”.

“Players should be able to access Women’s clubs and development structures, but not to mention that we still have a lot of girls that actively play in boys teams”.

Speaking of her hopes for the future of South African Women’s football Duncan explained “With the launch of the Women’s National League, my hope is that women in our Country are able to play the sport as a chosen career, and not have to juggle both working and playing football”.

“Women’s football is of course one of the fastest growing sports currently and we see more girls playing now than ever before”.

“I also hope that in the near future we have well established development centres for girls which are easy to access no matter where they live”.

As a former player herself she was asked what advice she would give to young upcoming players and she said in an extremely positive fashion “If you have the opportunity, don’t give it up”.

“There are more women that are now working in football, so it is definitely more encouraging now than ever before. There are so many different roles which women can take up, and with the rise of women’s football it is great to see more women involved”

(source: womenssoccerunited.com)