MELBOURNE has signed elite midfielder Karen Paxman as its priority pick for the club’s national women’s league team in 2017.

The 27-year-old made her debut for Melbourne this year in the Women’s All-Stars match where she was the side’s highest possession getter.

A six-time premiership player in the state league, Paxman currently plays for VFL Women’s powerhouse Darebin Falcons, alongside fellow Melbourne players Daisy Pearce and Melissa Hickey.

Paxman said she was thrilled to be joining her Falcons teammates at Melbourne in 2017.

“It’s awesome; Daisy and Mel are such hard workers so to be playing with them next year and starting a pre-season with them is amazing,” she said.

“We share the same approach [to our football] in terms of how we go about training and how we apply ourselves to playing.

“It’s nice knowing that I’m going to be starting off with them at Melbourne.”

A highly decorated player, including five times All-Australian, Paxman took a break from football in 2015 to travel and renew her passion for the game.

“Having a year off, physically your body thanks you for it a little bit; you’re not bruised and sore every week and mentally, it’s just refreshing to step away for a little while but then also remember why you love it [football] so much,” she said.

“By finals time, I was watching the Darebin girls and I was getting itchy for it again so I knew that I was refreshed enough.

“I definitely found the love for the game again after a pre-season at the beginning of this year.”

Highly competitive, Paxman is well regarded for her exceptional work-rate and was recently named as the half-back flank in the 2016 VFL Women’s Team of the Year.

After an extensive career at state and national level, Paxman said she was looking forward to the chance to don the red and blue.

“To be able to be in an environment where we will get access to the best of things and for us to be able to push ourselves to the limit and really find out how good we can get, is really exciting.

“It means a lot in terms of your own competitiveness and your own development so to be given an opportunity like this and for the AFL to invest and believe in us is an awesome feeling and makes me proud to play women’s football.”

Paxman’s involvement at the club will also extend off-field where she will take on the role of Community Services Coordinator.

The position will see her responsible for developing a player and staff community engagement program with current and future community partners, as well as becoming an ambassador for Melbourne City Mission.

“I’ve always wanted to be involved in community work of some kind,” she said.

“It’s definitely a role that I’m meant to be in; to give back and do something meaningful, it makes you feel good so I’m excited about that role.

“I really like that the Melbourne Football Club is so involved in the community.”