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Rio-bound footballer flies flag for resilience

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Auckland, July 20, 2016

Third-time Olympian and Football Fern vice-captain Katie Duncan will be “waving lots of flags” as she heads to Rio with the national women’s team this week.

As a proud gay athlete and having overcome a family tragedy in her childhood, she wants to send a strong message to people who have suffered similar distress.

“My biggest hope is to reach those that may have had trauma early in their lives,” she says. “I want them to know they can overcome it with the right attitude and support.”
The 28-year-old defensive mid-fielder is three years through a four-year Bachelor of Physical Education at the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Auckland.
She started playing football at four, getting plenty of encouragement from her parents, who coached her Hamilton-based team. She says “mental strength and self-respect” are a key part of her success.

Efforts to improve

“I am always wanting to become a better version of myself, not only on but off the field; by being a hard worker and making the most of every situation, viewing every training as important. I’m pretty reflective and driven about wanting to be my best.”
Known as Katie Hoyle (nickname, ‘Hoylie’), Katie married fellow New Zealand footballer Priscilla Duncan in 2014. The pair moved to Switzerland together, where Katie played for top Swiss team FC Zurich and Priscilla worked in the media for FIFA.
“I am very fortunate to have my wonderful wife, my two brothers, father and an amazing stepmother there to support and advise me. They are very close to my heart.”
She has also played professional seasons with Notts County in the UK, Melbourne Victory in Australia and SC 07 Bad Neuenahr in Germany. With 115 caps, she is the second most capped player in the Ferns, featuring in all of New Zealand’s three matches at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.

Pursuit of studies

Katie has managed to fit studying for her degree in between her professional commitments and intensive training, gym and yoga schedule, and is hoping to do her final year in 2017.
“I am looking forward to getting back into it, I really like the practical side of the degree, learning how to teach sport, going out on practicums in the schools and working with children.”
With a degree under her belt, she says her future after retiring from the professional game is open-ended, with teaching, personal training and coaching all possibilities.

“Our [Football Ferns] coach Tony Readings is fantastic, so committed and with no ego, which is rare in male football coaches. I’ve often watched grown men yelling at 17-year-old girls, and actually said something to them about it, which hasn’t always made me popular.”
In a tough draw, the 17th FIFA ranked Football Ferns will face the defending Olympic champions USA in pool play, as well as Colombia (ranked No. 24) and France (No. 3) when their campaign begins on 3 August in Belo Horizonte.

At the 2012 London Olympics, the Ferns reached the quarter finals but as a stronger and highly experienced team, are hoping to make it right to the final in 2016.

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