• Jayden J Bartlett

Lauren Wakfer - the Golden State's Golden Ruck

There are fewer roles on the footy field that are as important as the ruck. They can provide their side with the first look at the footy and, in general, they are a major presence on the footy field.

It is a tough role to take on – and as such, it is an even harder role to flourish in. Yet at just 17-years-old, Lauren Wakfer has certainly made the most of her time in the middle.

Standing at over 180cm, this young ruck has become one of the golden football prospects within Western Australia.

However, ‘Wacky’ as she is affectionately known, is only relatively new to football having only begun playing in 2018 – and even then, it was a humble start to her journey, to say the least.

“The local team needed some girls to make a team,” Lauren said when asked what brought her into the football world. “So, me, my sister and our best mate jumped in and said why not.”

“My little brother used to play, and my grandad is heavily involved in footy, so I thought I’d give it a go.”

Deciding to help her local side, she joined the Safety Bay Stingers for the 2018 season where, in a sign of good things to come, she was crowned as their Most Valuable Player.

Lauren then joined the Warnbro Swans for the 2019 season. It was here at the Swans where she proved that her great start to footy wasn’t a fluke – because she finished runner-up to Warnbro’s Most Valuable Player award.

After a great start to her footy journey, she took a yearlong break from football in 2020.

This break must have had some effect on the young ruck since, upon returning in 2021, she took her footy to a whole new level.

Joining the South Fremantle Football Club, Lauren knew from the get-go that she was bound to enjoy her time at the Bulldogs – and this would be reflected in her debut performance.

“The very first training I went to they just welcomed me with open arms and took me in as if I’d been with them before,” she said about her time at South Fremantle. “The girls at the Bulldogs are so amazing.”

“Such a supportive environment to be involved in and they’ve done wonders for my career.”

'The Golden Prospect in Flight' - this image was kindly supplied by Lauren Wakfer.

After a great preseason, the young ruck made her debut for the Bulldogs during Round One of the 2021 season.

“I don’t normally get nervous before a game until I’m on the field for the first centre bounce, then I get a bit nervous,” she said when questioned about her debut. “I was just very excited.”

“And I don’t think I understood what it meant at the time. Very grateful to be able to say I experienced that.”

Her debut game also marked the beginning of just her third season of playing football – which shows how far this young ruck had gone within a short time.

And to further show how quickly Lauren had developed, she finished her debut season by being crowned as South Fremantle’s 2021 Rising Star which left her “honestly so shocked”.

Did not expect that,” she said reflecting on the Rising Star award. “As there were so many other girls in contention for that.”

“I didn’t even realise it was an award until they read out my name.”

Things only became more shocking for Lauren on that particular awards night as she ended up finishing third in South Fremantle’s Fairest and Best medal count.

“There are so many talented girls at South Freo that were so deserving of both awards and especially because I missed a few games due to state I thought for sure it was gonna be a close run between quite a few girls.”

Impressively, football isn’t the only sport that Lauren is talented at because, as a sign of her athleticism, she also plays goal defence for Peel Lightning in the Western Australian Netball League (WANL).

Adding duality to her sporting life, at the end of the WAFL season, this talented prospect then heads straight into the netball season.

It is this same drive to develop and play the sport that has seen Lauren come so far in football within such a short time. Although, she also gives credit to those who have helped her along the way.

Want to thank my first coach Jackson Zanoli and my second coach and aunty, Nancy Thompson. Developed me into not only the football player I am but the person I am, and I couldn’t be more grateful.”

Considering all of this, Lauren can be described as athletic, dedicated, and passionate – but these are all qualities that a person can find in many of the rucks around the country. What makes her special is the leadership that this young player possesses.

Amazingly, for someone of her age, Lauren helps teach outside of football – and aspires to make a career in teaching.

“I just love helping people get the best out of themselves and developing both me and them along the way.”

Continuing to better herself on and off of the footy field; Lauren has added another impressive accolade to her growing career by being selected into the leadership squad of the 2022 Western Australian under-19s team.

“Very grateful,” she said when asked how it felt to make the squad. “I feel so honoured that I get to represent WA at such an elite level.”

This athleticism, leadership, passion, and willingness to learn are what make Lauren Wakfer such a golden prospect. She is, after all, one of the best ruck prospects within Western Australia and dare we say, within the nation as well.

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Article #228

Minutes with Moose would like to thank all of our ambassadors.

All of these images have been kindly supplied by Lauren Wakfer.

#WatchtheWomen #WAFLW #SouthFremantle #MinuteswithMoose

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