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Melbourne Football Club

Paxman excited to return

AFTER nearly three years as a Bulldog, Karen Paxman will make her debut for Melbourne in Saturday night’s Women’s All-Stars match against her old side at VU Whitten Oval. No one who has seen the dynamic on-baller dominate for the Darebin Falcons in the VFL Women’s competition would be surprised at her selection. However, something that would surprise many is the news that Paxman didn’t play any football at all in 2015, instead stepping away from the game to travel the world.

“It was just to take a bit of a break from footy,” says Paxman of her trip, which included an eye-opening tour of South America. “You have a year off and your body’s just refreshed and you’re not getting beaten up each week so you can focus on doing a bit more running.”

Eleven years after her debut, Paxman returned revitalised for the inaugural VFL Women’s season and set about becoming a master of her craft. A four-quarter performer and massive ball-winner with a marathon runner’s fitness and excellent vision and smarts, Paxman ranks among the highest echelon of midfielders in Victoria.

Paxman was first drafted by the Bulldogs in 2013 and, aside from the 2015 matches, has not missed a place since. Melbourne jumped at the opportunity to recruit her in the All Stars match draft to play alongside four of her Darebin teammates in Lauren Pearce and Elise O’Dea as well as Demon marquee selections Daisy Pearce and Melissa Hickey.

Preparing for her first match in the red and the blue and the final Women’s AFL Exhibition Match before the inaugural national competition in 2017, Paxman says Saturday’s match in many ways feels like a culmination of the journey of women’s football.

“The first one was obviously special,” she says, “but we talked about it last night: this one is a celebration of what the last few years have been and the foundation that it’s set for the coming years.

“Melbourne and the Bulldogs have given everyone a great opportunity.  We want to win and we want to be really competitive but also it’s a celebration of what the last few years have meant to us all.”

The Women’s All Stars match against the Western Bulldogs starts Saturday night at VU Whitten Oval at 7.00pm and will be televised nationally on the Seven Network.