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As City girls prepare for grand final history, Ayres has no regrets she made Victory switch

As Melbourne City's W-League stars prepare for a history-making tilt at a third grand final triumph there is one young female footballer on the other side of town who might be forgiven for casting envious glances at her former teammates at Bundoora.

That Melbourne Victory's young star Melina Ayres isn't says a lot about the philosophical character of the 18-year-old, and more about the fact that she is glad that the switch from the City Blues to the Navy Blues has given her the chance to play regularly.

Melina Ayres has started to find my feet in the W-League. now that she is playing regularly. Photo: AAP

So while her former teammates ready themselves for a date with destiny, Ayres is preparing for another W-League off-season in the NPL women's competition – and feeling pleased with her progress after picking up the nomination for the W-League's young player of the month for January.''The two seasons I had at City I really got a lot out of, but I didn't really play that much. Jeff (Victory W-League coach Jeff Hopkins) offered me a spot here and I have really enjoyed working with him,'' she said.

''Playing regularly I have started to find my feet in the league. It's really cool. There's a lot of young girls who have been playing really well this season. Getting this recognition gives me a lot of confidence in what I am doing.''

The season was one to forget as a whole for a Victory side that failed to make the finals, but there were some memorable moments for Ayres, none more than the spectacular long-range goal she struck against City when Victory managed to upset the form book and win the second derby of the season 2-1.

''The two goals I scored were the individual highlights (of the season) and the derby win was probably our game of the season as a team. everything just clicked.

''The competition you come up against in the W-League is world-class, with players from overseas, and half the Matildas,'' says the teenager who is also soon set to start a University course.

''I plan to stay in Australia. I had thought about the US (collegiate system) but will prefer to stay here. Maybe one or two more good seasons of W-League and I might be able to push for a spot in the Matildas.''

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A multi-talented sportswoman, Ayres played for the Victorian under-18 women's cricket team but plans to stick with soccer rather than look at AFLW or cricket.

''I am in a really fortunate spot to be playing now. Financially and having the facilities we do makes things easier.

''I did like cricket, but I like the way soccer is growing at the moment more than cricket is. I am enjoying it now, but maybe in the future I will go to Big Bash … who knows.

''The leagues are growing and a lot of girls have already gone to AFLW, but I think women's soccer is taking the lead at the moment.''

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SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

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