The Lewes FC star who has worked with UEFA and Football Manager in ‘massively growing’ market

In her own words, Lauren Heria’s move to Lewes FC was a “dream come true”.

The midfielder had researched the Rooks while studying a sports business masters at Loughborough University, speaking to board member Karen Dobres to find out more about the club’s drive for gender equality in football.

Heria, who played for Leyton Orient and London Bees after graduating, subsequently jumped at the chance to trial for Lewes last summer.

“I think like many girls and women growing up playing football, I faced quite a lot of challenges that just resulted from being a woman,” Heria told GiveMeSport Women.


“One of my earliest memories of that was playing at Charlton, in their academy. Their men’s team got relegated from the Premier League, and then overnight they pulled all the money out of the women’s setup.

“So, I always struggled a little bit with the inequality in football. To find a club that not only acknowledges it, but is actively trying to fight against inequality in football, is incredible. It was something I wanted to be a part of.”

It is Heria’s first time playing for a team in the Championship, which is known for its relentlessly competitive nature.

“It’s been a lot of learning,” Heria noted. “I’ve come into the squad with pretty good physical abilities and aspects of my game, but it was the technical side that I’ve really had to work on. So I feel like I’ve improved a lot in this environment.

“On the pitch, it’s been a challenge to get minutes. That said, I’m still just trying to improve and push my game, and I’m hoping that some minutes will come towards the end of the season.”

Lewes are currently preparing for a historic FA Cup quarter-final match against Manchester United.

It is the first time the club has been in the final eight of the tournament, and the achievement has given the players a bigger platform from which to shout about gender equality.

Heria has capitalised on this, working with her teammates Nat Johnson, Rhian Cleverly and Laura Hartley to organise an open letter campaigning for equal prize money in the FA Cup.

Once signed by the entire squad, it was sent to Karen Carney, who is chair of an in-depth review into the future of domestic women’s football.

Heria also wants to make a difference in the commercial side of women’s football, setting up her own consultancy business, Equal Kicks, last year.

“I just turned 28 last week, so I’ve been in and around football for a few years now,” she said. “I think one of the things I’ve really seen recently, and it’s not groundbreaking to say, but the commercial interest in women’s football is massively growing.

“But I think sometimes the structures within clubs or the athlete knowledge, in terms of the commercial side, are lacking.

“If we’ve got companies coming in wanting to invest, I want to put myself in the middle and be able to help the clubs and players navigate this space, so they can actually grow sustainably and independently.”

Heria has since worked with Euro 2022 and Football Manager, and has also completed research with FIFA.

“I see my company as a way to experience different elements of the sports space, pick up different knowledge, and to really and actually help women’s clubs and female athletes to navigate this new commercial space which is growing and growing every day.”

While it might seem a challenge to balance a playing career with running a business, it works perfectly for Heria.

“The club have been very supportive of the work I do off the pitch as well. The chief executive Maggie Murphy has definitely been very helpful, and I can just go into her office and chat about my business and bounce ideas off her.

“When I’m trying to grow this whole thing off the pitch, being in this environment with such strong inspirational women has definitely been a bonus which I didn’t really envisage having when I came into the club.

“I thought it would be all about football, and while it still is, I think the club really takes care of us as people as well. So it’s been cool.”

Lewes FC players

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