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Published 31 October 2023 4 min read
England Women's Senior Team

Lauren James' message to kids: 'Just be you'

Written by:

Lauren James

Lauren James discusses role models as part of Black History Month and this year's theme 'Saluting Our Sisters'

I used to go to watch Chelsea when I was younger and I looked up to Drew Spence because we had the same hairstyle, we were from similar backgrounds and our families actually knew each other!

Our dads grew up together but I hadn’t actually spoken to Drew until I started to play professional football so when I joined Chelsea, it was nice to have the chance to play with her.

I then moved to Arsenal and I really looked up to Kelly Smith and Rachel Yankey.

I started training with the first team when I was really young and it was Alex Scott’s final season when she was starting to stop but she was still around the place.

Alex Scott is fourth in the list of England Women's most capped players of all time
Alex Scott is fourth in the list of England Women's most capped players of all time

Coming through the academy, Alex Scott and Rachel Yankey were a big part of the Arsenal team so it helps when you look up and you can see people who look like you. It gives you more belief that one day that could be you.

No matter what you look like, everyone can be your role model of course but when you are that young, you probably are attracted more to things like ‘wow, she looks like me’ and ‘I want to be like her’.

So when I had the chance to train with Alex, it was a bit surreal. She is obviously a legend for what she did with Arsenal and England. Even with what she is doing now in the media, she is still paving the way by showing people you can be anything you want.

When I started training with the first team at Arsenal, it included players I play with at England now, such as Leah Williamson and Jordan Nobbs, and the likes of Vivianne Miedema.

Rachel Yankey is an England and Arsenal legend
Rachel Yankey is an England and Arsenal legend

You really noticed how professional the first-team players were and the intensity at which they trained. It was those day-to-day things they used to do. The little things, even just the way they arrived at training.

It is crazy how things have changed because now it is kids coming up to me and looking at me as a role model. That was me and now they are coming up to me!

I try my best to be a good role model to kids who want to play football and children in general really as I hope I can encourage the kids to be themselves – even with the little things like the crazy things I do with my hair!

I just want kids to feel like if they want to become something, then they can do that by being themselves – just be you.

England's Black Lionesses