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Mar 24, 2023   |  3:01PM AET

The science behind Victory’s Melina Ayres

The science behind Victory’s Melina Ayres

The love of football and the outdoors has led Melbourne Victory’s Melina Ayres through a seven year juggling act between the two.

Ayres is in her final year of an Environmental Science Management Sustainability Degree, while leading the Club as A-League Women’s top goal scorer with seven.

“Soccer takes the number one spot, and then you have to work around it most of the time,” Ayres said.

“I’ve been doing online uni because I’ve been overseas. It means if you miss lectures you can catch up. It’s pretty tricky trying to juggle it.”

The course includes practical components, which Ayres admitted could be challenging but said it was good to have a balance.

Taking on an internship with an agricultural research company, Ayres said her degree would ultimately open up a broad field of opportunities for her.

“I want to be somewhere near the ocean, whether it’s studying the reef or something like that,” she said.

She said having no set job from her degree was “kind of exciting”.

“I’ve always loved the environment … so I thought it would make sense to do an Environmental Science Degree and I’ve just wanted to conserve all the places that I love,” Ayres said.

“It made sense.”

Tackling the degree part-time alongside football has also opened the door to volunteer opportunities for Ayres.

One was volunteering with Parks, where she said she was given the opportunity to explore some of the best parts of the job – including a kangaroo count.

For Melbourne Victory this season, a recurring hamstring injury has led to a “frustrating” time for Ayres.

A strong start to the season was hampered by having to sit on the bench for a seven game stretch.

“If it had been a different month, I would’ve missed two games,” Ayres said.

“But it’s good to be back on the field now, and now we’re in contention for the finals.”

In her absence a number of players have stepped up, which Ayres was full of praise for.

“All of them have stepped up, and we had a really tough period of seven games in not many days, it was pretty crazy,” she said.

“So we just had to hang in there, and keep ourselves up there for finals contention and that’s what they’ve done.

“They’ve proven they’re good enough to be in this league and show they’ll be starting in the years to come.”

Melbourne Victory face Brisbane Roar in their final home game on Sunday. Ayres said it would be a good opportunity to play a strong team in front of a home crowd.

“We want to show how we can actually play well against a good team and at home in front of a home crowd. It’ll put us in a better position for the last game so hopefully we can get the job done,” she said.