Janice Cayman: The “Belgian Knife” of Women’s Football

Olympique Lyonnais and Belgian international Janice Cayman spoke EXCLUSIVELY to Impetus’ French editor Jean-Pierre Thiesset about her career, life off the pitch and how she got her unique nickname.

Above: Janice Cayman in action during Olympique Lyonnais’ game against Fribourg (Switzerland) on July 31, 2021. Photo: Jean-Pierre Thiesset for Impetus.

Janice Cayman was born on October 12, 1988, in Brasschaat, Belgium and she started to play football with the boys’ team at Ossmim, her hometown club at the age of six.

Janice played for several Belgian clubs up to 2009 including the TKV Tienen with which she played three games in Women UEFA Champions League in the 2008-2009 season. Then, before joining Olympique Lyonnais on June 18, 2019, Janice also played for:

  • 2009: Pali Blues, California, USA (10 games)
  • 2009-2012: Florida State Seminoles, USA (48 games, 16 goals)
  • 2012-2016: Juvisy (now Paris FC), France (90 games, 13 goals); 1 semi-final of UEFA Women’s Champions League
  • 2016-2017: Western New York Flash, New York, USA
  • 2017-2019: Montpellier, France (52 games, 18 goals)

Janice won three titles in France with Olympique Lyonnais in 2020: France D1 Arkema Championships, France National Cup, UEFA Women’s Champions League. Since 2019 with Lyon, she has played:

  • 18 games (2 goals) in France D1 Arkema Championships
  • 3 games (1 goal) in France National Cup
  • 9 games (1 goal) in Women UEFA Champions League.

In international football, Janice played for Belgium U17 from 2003 to 2005 (three games, one goal), U19 from 2005 to 2007 (18 games, three goals), and the national senior team from 2007 onwards (115 games, 42 goals). Janice became only the second to earn 100 caps with the Belgium squad.

Janice has a bachelor’s degree in STAPS “Sciences et Techniques des Activités Physiques et Sportives” (Sciences and Techniques of Physical and Sport Activities) from KUL (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven – Catholic University of Leuven), Belgium and a bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences from Florida State University, USA. Right now, she is in progress to follow the courses of the UEFA A level (highest level before the PRO level) to becomes coach.


Jean-Pierre Thiesset (JPT): What is your preferred position and which other positions could you play?

Janice Cayman (JC): My preferred position is offensive right or left as it is my training position, but I can play in defence on the right too. It is what is good with Lyon because it is a team which often dominates, we can go forward and use the right-hand corridor. I think that it is very good also to play several positions because we learn how a striker and a defender think and what they will try to do. I play mostly on the right because I am right-handed even if I play sometimes on the left even as a defender when the left defenders were injured last season. 

JPT: Is it true that your nickname is the “Belgium Knife” (in reference to the “Swiss Knife” with which we can do everything) because you can play almost everywhere?

JC: Yes, some people say that (laughs). It is the coach Jean-Luc Vasseur that gave me this nickname when he started to make me play in defence.

JPT: Who/what inspired you to become a football player? It is my family because my father and my three brothers played football and I joined them in a men’s team. We also watched a lot of football on TV, and it was the happiness to be the whole family together.

JPT: What are your favourite women players? (French and foreign)

JC: It is difficult to say because I know so many players but at Lyon there are great players, and it is an honour to play with them daily. We have also several good young players in Belgium squad that I like.

JPT: Who is your role-model if you have one?

JC: It was more men players than women players because in my time there was not a lot of women football on TV. When I was young, I liked Romário (Brazil) and then Diego Forlán (Uruguay).

JPT: What is your greatest challenge on the pitch?

JC: It is to succeed in my game for my teammates and that we do a good collective match. I am rather a team player.

JPT: What is your greatest challenge off the pitch?

JC: It is to do as much as possible of my days and to have a good time with my teammates off the pitch. There is a lot of focus on football because it is our job, but we are very lucky because it is also a passion. In the past I worked in a supermarket, and it is different to wake up to go there than for playing football.

JPT: Who are your closest teammates? JC: I get along very well with everybody, but it is true that between the foreigners we are a little bit closer.

JPT: What do you like to get up to off the pitch?

JC: I like to listen to music; I do that a lot. I like a bit of everything. I also read a little bit. I have a guitar, but I need to take lessons, what I hope to start soon.

JPT: What makes Olympique Lyonnais such a great club to play for? JC: It is the best club in the world. I played against Lyon with Juvisy (now Paris FC) and Montpellier and it was difficult, now I am pleased to be on the right side and it is only happiness. There are good players at every post, and we must be at the best of ourselves during the week in the training sessions to play the weekend; it forces us to progress.

JPT: You have been Captain for 20 minutes, how it feels?

JC: Yes, it was an honor for me and above all it was a special moment with Wendie (Renard) for her 400th game; it was a great pleasure when she gave the armband to me for the rest of the game. I would never have thought in my career that I could be captain even for only 20 minutes.

Above: Janice Cayman, with the Captain Armband during the game against Dijon on September 12, 2021. Photo: Jean-Pierre Thiesset for Impetus.

JPT: What would you like to do when you stop football?

JC: I do not yet know exactly what I want to do next, but what is certain is that it will be something in football (laughs).

JPT: What is your favourite animal?

JC: A dog. When I was younger, it was more a Dolphin, but it is difficult to have one in a house; I think it would not enter in my apartment (laughs). I had a Dalmatian when I was with my parents, and I will have a dog for myself when I stop football.

JPT: What are your preferred foods? JC: I am vegetarian, and I like grilled tofu so I cook Thai pasta with grilled tofu.

JPT: What is your main quality?

JC: I try to see the good in everyone. I always focus on the good and I am positive.

JPT: What is your main fault? JC: I am too nice sometimes.

JPT: What do you need to improve in your game? JC: There are many things (laughs). I think that I could improve my depth management because it is something special to defenders.

JPT: Is there a message you would like to give to your fans? JC: I am so happy that they can watch us again. They are present at the matches and their support warms our hearts. After the game, it also very nice that they are still there to say hello and speak to us. The fans are there for us every game, so I think it is normal that we be available for them too.

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