Women’s Footy – VFL: Mel Kuys


November, 2016. Box Hill have just become the tenth VFL Women’s team after assuming the license of the relegated Knox Falcons. Coach Patrick Hill faces an uphill battle before the season starts in May, just seven months off: he needs to assemble, unite and train a team from scratch. Assessing the strengths of the players who audition at Box Hill will take time. Teaching his planned strategies will take time. Every-bloody-thing in building a football team takes time.


Somewhere deep on this to-do list, he has to find a player who will fulfil the position of captain of this backs-to-the-wall side who are bound to have the odds stacked against them.


However, it is here that Hill has his stroke of luck. For the all-important decision of who will lead the inaugural Box Hill VFL Women’s side is settled when Mel Kuys knocks on the door with seven of her fellow Knox refugees.


Hill knows 29-year old Kuys because she was the only Falcon to have played AFL after being selected by Collingwood. There’s a lot to like about her game – dogged, relentless and willing to fight tooth-and-nail to win the hard ball.


Kuys is polite but nonetheless forthright. She “wanted to make sure my girls felt they were in the right spot”. Would Hill’s coaching style suit them? Would the facilities? Would they be well treated by the club?


That was her first concern – before herself, she was there to look after her young teammates who were just trying to find a new home at the beginning of their senior football careers. According to the pugnacious midfielder, once you assume the responsibilities of captain, “you almost come last.”


By the time Kuys informed Hill that she and her teammates were onboard with Box Hill in 2017, the coach’s mind had been made up. Mel Kuys was the sort of player and person around which his team could be built.


As the inaugural Box Hill VFL Women’s captain, Kuys is already guaranteed a place in the club’s history books. However, she isn’t content with that footnote. Over a tumultuous last twelve months, she captained Knox’s maiden VFL Women’s voyage, then watched on as her club of 15 years was excommunicated and finally fulfilled a lifelong AFL dream. She’s now ready to lead the newest club in VFL Women’s.


“It’s all about actions, more than words,” says Kuys, who was announced as Box Hill captain on the night of the Hawks’ season launch on the Monday before their Round 1 clash against Geelong. “You’re leading by example and you’re doing what you want your team to do, they’ll follow.


“Maybe pre-game when you’re trying to pump up a player, in that way words are important. A lot of the girls are new or have come from another sport to here. So having to talk to them a little bit more and putting the right point across as to what they’re doing really well and what they have to improve on.”


While her AFL experience makes her the Hawks’ highest profile player, Kuys’ ferocious competitiveness and keen footy smarts make her an ideal example for her fledgling side to follow. And she’s more than willing to talk up Box Hill’s potential in their first season.


“The future,” she declares, “is massive. Obviously, the girls have really warmed to Paddy and the coaching crew.


“It’s important to have young blood coming through the ranks. If you look at Darebin, their mid-range is around 28-29 years old and ours is more like 20-22. So seeing the skills that our younger generation have, the facilities they have, the coaches that we have onboard and how elite it is… it’s only going to be a very, very bright future.”

About Callum O'Connor

Here's to feelin' good all the time.

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