Girls FC ‘Fan of the Week’ – Mel McLaughlin

Girls FC speaks to sports presenter Mel McLaughlin

I first met Mel when she produced for Football Stars of Tomorrow. Mel interviewed me as part of the program when I was just 16 and we instantly formed a unique friendship. In 2007 Mel joined Fox Sports News as a presenter; she now fills our lounge-room up with sporting goodness.

Mel is a lover of all things sport; in particular football so we thought it only fitting Mel took centre stage this week as Girls FC-s ‘Fan of the Week-.

Girls FC: Your whole career has been around sport... as a whole what is it you most enjoy?

Mel: Just being able to do something you love and are passionate about for a living is a wonderful thing. Sport is fun, exciting and controversial; there is never a dull moment!

Girls FC: You yourself play football Mel, what do you love about the game as a spectator and participant?

Mel: As a participant, I've always loved just playing the game itself, especially when you're younger trying to teach yourself all the tricks you see on TV. I have the best memories of playing at lunchtime at school with my mates, and then playing on a Sunday with my friends, so much fun. As a spectator NOTHING beats football, the skill and the excitement... and the atmosphere that is simply second to none! The novelty never wears off and I know how lucky I am to work in football.

Girls FC: You must live and breathe it... Do you ever switch off from football?

Mel: As I'm sure you can relate to it is very hard to switch off from the game! Not that I'd want to, there's always a game to watch/work on/play or big news to read about or report on. I enjoy following a lot of other sports as well so that keeps me busy, although I am a bit nervous about the Ashes at the moment! Because work is so busy spare time is mostly about catching up with friends and family. I do love music though so my husband and I try to get to gigs when we can or just the beach in summer makes me happy!

Girls FC: Out on the park what do you think are the main differences between men and women-s football?

Mel: Men are obviously physically stronger and faster, in terms of skill though it totally depends. Football is so much about decision making and smart play, and at the top levels in THAT regard I don't see a difference, in both games players make really good and bad decisions, and there is definitely some players with better vision than others regardless of gender.

Girls FC: You mentioned on the Fox Sports page the idea of being stretchered off for 5 - 10 minutes if you were to take a dive. Now women-s football has been labeled several times as a more pure form of the game, less diving and carrying on. I-m being particularly biased here but I-m interested to know your thoughts regarding this comment?

Mel: Well if you're biased I am as well! I have always said the same thing. It is something that has fascinated me because thinking back over the years at school, park football and even the few years at state league level I can honestly say I really never saw diving or too many really dirty or dangerous tactics. I honestly think we're tougher too, maybe it IS a girl thing, but instead of rolling around on the ground (unless there's a serious injury) we're inclined to get up, even in pain, and play on. Yes, we are awesome!

Girls FC: What Westfield W-League team do you follow?

Mel: I thoroughly enjoy watching the Westfield W-League but I must admit I haven't really picked up a team. Until now of course! You're my favourite player, and I HAVE known you since you were a little football star at school so Canberra it is!

Sally: Wow thanks Mel, I-m flattered to hear that, truly am. Canberra United will be pleased too :-)

Girls FC: Have you watched much of the Westfield W-League this year or in previous years?

Mel: Yes, I try to catch it when I'm not out working on the Hyundai A-League, and I saw a fair bit in person last season when there were some games on before the men. It is well worth getting out to a game.

Girls FC: Would you be interested in coming over to Germany next year for the FIFA Women-s World Cup?

Mel: I absolutely am interested in covering the Women's World Cup. The women's game unfortunately doesn't really get the recognition it deserves but WE know how massive it is, and how fantastic the quality of the players is. In Germany it'll be amazing. Besides, the Westfield Matildas are going to win it, and I don't want to miss that!

Girls FC: What would you say to a young aspiring athlete/footballer from your experiences within the sporting industry?

Mel: Enjoy yourself, try to not to let external pressure get to you, stay away from negative sources as much as possible (e.g. reading online sporting forums etc which can be very critical and often without justification).. And stay true to yourself!

Girls FC: Thanks so much for your time Mel, and finally would you like to add anything else?

Mel: Well yes, I believe more people should know about the Westfield Matildas and their personalities, as well as being an outstanding team they are a great bunch of girls, very talented and very very funny. When you work in the media sometimes you struggle to come across athletes with interesting personalities who are entertaining to hear from but it is a delight at football awards nights etc when the girls get up on stage.