Melinda Hyland becomes the first woman to reach 350 games

Melinda Hyland (back left) with her family, Julie McLean, Alby (6), Andy (3), Teddy (8). Photo: Damian Jenkins

On Friday, 1 March Melinda Hyland will become the first woman in NSW or the ACT to play 350 senior matches, when she takes to the field for North Wagga in the Southern NSW Women’s League.

The phenomenal achievement is the result of years of commitment and experience. Her first match was played in 2000 in what was the first ever Sydney Women’s AFL game (now AFL Sydney). She played 100 matches in this competition for Sydney Uni, many of them as the team’s captain/coach.

Hyland has been an outstanding contributor to football on and off the field, having received numerous accolades, been selected for dozens of representative teams, and done just about everything there is to do off the field from being a NAB AFL Auskick coach right up to serving as President of her club.

Almost half of Hyland’s 350 matches were for the Riverina Lions (161), which played in the AFL Canberra competition. She was named in the club’s team of the decade twice (2013 and 2023) and was three times best and fairest. She was also named in AFL Canberra’s team of the decade in 2017. She has represented NSW in five separate national carnivals (34 games) and has coached many state juniors and youth teams at national championships.

AFL CEO, Andrew Dillon, congratulated Hyland on the breadth of her achievements in football. “Melinda Hyland is clearly an inspiration to many football people around her,” he said. “She has been a star on the field for so long and has made endless contributions to the game as a player, coach, volunteer and administrator. Congratulations Mel and thank you for all you’ve achieved and done for Australian rules football.”

Tiffany Robertson, Head of AFL NSW/ACT, thanked Hyland for her enormous contribution to women’s football in NSW. “Mel Hyland is a true pioneer of our game in NSW,” she said. “She is a major part of the success of the SWAFL – now AFL Sydney – and has had a huge impact on women and girls’ footy in the Riverina as a player, coach and mentor to many footballers. It’s incredible to think of all she’s achieved in her career and I offer my heartfelt congratulations on playing 350 matches.”

Melinda Hyland’s top playing accolades

  • – 349 games 2000-2024 (Sydney Uni 100, Macquarie Uni 4, Riverina Lions 161, Griffith 1, North Wagga 26, NSW 34, ACT 22, North/South ACT 2)
  • – Riverina Lions’ Team of the Decade (2023, 2012)
  • – AFL Canberra Team of the Decade (2017)
  • – Riverina Lions’ Best and Fairest Award (2007, 2014)
  • – 2012 Riverina Lions Team of the Decade Selection
  • – AFL Canberra Team of the Year selection (2008-2014)
  • – ACT Representative Player (2007, 2010-2014)
  • – Sydney Women’s AFL Team of the Decade Selection (2009)
  • – NSW Women’s AFL Representative Player (2000, 2003-2006)
  • – Sydney Women’s AFL League Best and Fairest Award (2006)
  • – Sydney Women’s AFL League Players’ Player Award (2006)
  • – University of Sydney Women’s AFL Best and Fairest Award (2006)
Melinda Hyland celebrates Sydney University’s SWAFL 2001 Premiership (Photo: supplied)