By Nicholas Galea
Born and raised in Melbourne’s outer northern suburbs, Mia Muscat was drawn to sport from a young age after spending much of her childhood around her cousins who too had a talent for it.
Muscat first started off with a bit of athletics as she enjoyed running before trying her hand at netball where she represented the Essendon Thunder in the Essendon District Netball Association as a teenager.
Gradually from there Muscat also started to grow an interest in Aussie Rules, joining the Strathmore Football Club in 2016 where she played with the Under 15’s Girls Team in the Essendon District Football League.
Muscat alternated playing the two codes throughout the year before making the decision to commit to footy, midway through the season.
At first Muscat’s mother wasn’t too keen on seeing her daughter move into football but over time she came to terms with Mia’s decision and is now fully supportive of her chosen pathway.
‘Mum wasn’t too keen on me playing footy at the start, because she’s like “my little girl, my little baby” but now she loves it and is really all around it,’ Muscat said.
‘She wants me to take it as far as I can really, and she loves me playing footy.’
Muscat continued to represent Strathmore Football Club after progressing to the Under 18s Youth Girls a year later where she played nine games.
After developing her chosen craft for a couple of years, Muscat took the competition by storm in her third season (2018), playing 13 games; nine of those in Division One.
Such was Muscat’s form that year, she finished runners up the in the EDFL Under 18s Girls Best and Fairest, polling 14 votes, six behind Georgia Prespakis (Sunbury Lions) the eventual winner as well as a friend and former teammate of hers during her time with the Calder Cannons Summer Training Programs in 2016 and 2018.
‘To be up there as a Runner Up (in the League) was pretty awesome… To finish under Georgie Prespakis who could be potentially getting drafted this year was a big honour,’ Muscat said.
‘I thought it was a joke when my teammates first told me at start, I thought that my coach was playing a prank on me but it was real so it was pretty cool.’
Originally, Muscat played Aussie Rules more for the fun of but the opportunity to play the sport in a more serious manner was put forward to her after a conversation with her former coach at Strathmore in Liam Cavanagh who had been given the opportunity to coach Coburg’s potential women’s team.
At first Muscat was unsure and hesitant about the idea of moving to a new club and a different challenge but a discussion with members of the Coburg’s women’s football department put those thoughts to bed after feeling a real sense of connection, care and desire to improvement and success.
‘I wasn’t too keen at the start because I had never been to a new club and I had no friends coming here or anything like that,’ she said.
‘But I went for coffee with Jessie Chester, Ruzena, Maddie and Liam, and I just walked away with a massive smile and I said to myself “if I don’t do this, I’m an idiot, these people are genuine humans”.’
Following that conversation, after four seasons with Strathmore in the EDFL, Muscat made the decision to call the Coburg Football Club her new home, becoming one of the clubs two inaugural signings alongside Maddie Edwards, who would be named captain.
Lead. Unite. Leave a Legacy. These are the core values that the Coburg Football Club Women’s Team was built upon.
Muscat is no stranger in being part of a foundation team, having played an important role at her two previous football programs at Strathmore and the Calder Cannons and is keen on using that experience to help shape the next generation of women footballers.
‘Leaving a legacy for the Coburg Football Club is amazing and I’m so happy to be part of it because it makes pathway for a lot of women in football easier, especially in the Moreland area, to help them take their footy to the next level,’ she said.
‘At my old club at Strathmore as I was a part of the first women’s team there and I’ve also been part of the first women’s team at the Calder Cannons as well so I’ve made a bit of history which is pretty awesome and it gives you a good feeling of achievement as well.’
Although Muscat is still in infancy of her football career, she has taken her game to a higher level in her maiden season at Coburg, playing all nine games with the highlight being named the Lion of the Round following her 21 disposals and four tackle effort in round nine against the third placed St Kilda Sharks.
‘From where I was at the start of preseason last year, I think I have progressed at a really good rate,’ Muscat said.
‘I feel like I’m hitting targets a lot more consistently, my marking is getting better and just my overall knowledge of the game is getting better.’
After signing with Coburg last November, Muscat has thoroughly enjoyed her time at the club, citing the environment, culture and strong support systems as the biggest reasons that have helped her improve as a footballer.
‘It’s really good to have such good support system and resources here at Coburg… The people here want to see you succeed and everyone gets around each other,’ Muscat said.
‘I was going into training confident because I knew they wanted to help make us better… It’s good to have young coaches as well because they see a lot of life through us and they understand how younger people work these days.’
‘It’s because of the people I’m around and everyone’s helping me to be better,’ she said.
‘Usually there are groups within a team, but we’re all one big happy family,’ she said.
‘We all go out for family dinners and we’re all so supportive of each other especially during lockdowns, we get around each other, everyone posts what they get up to each day and we are all encouraging everyone to stay active and stuff like that.
‘It’s pretty awesome to be surrounded by such happy and fun people.’
A determined young woman, Muscat harbours ambitions to keep pushing her football career to the next level and with the fast growth of women’s football there is the possibility of her in the near future of featuring in the VFLW and hopefully the AFLW.
‘I think I could potentially push myself harder and try and make it to AFLW… It would be a pretty awesome experience to be part of that because it’s come a long way from where it began,’ she said.
‘If I don’t make it, I don’t and if I do, I do but I would love to do it to have a crack at it.’
‘If I want to take myself to that next level, it’s my responsibility to push myself to that level.’
Outside of her sporting lifestyle, Muscat works at DECJUBA in Melbourne’s western suburbs while she is currently studying a Bachelor of Criminal Justice at Victoria University in Footscray where she hopes it will lead her into the Australian Federal Police Force.
In her spare time Muscat also enjoys going to the gym, hanging out with her friends, riding her bike, reading and is something of a self-confessed Harry Potter fanatic.
A down to earth person who has a lively personality, Muscat describes herself as a someone who tries to put a smile on people’s faces and one who takes a positive approach to life.
‘My main thing is that I try to do an act of kindness each day, and try and put a smile on people’s faces’ she said.
‘I love being the happy, go lucky person that makes people laugh and smile.’
‘I just want to bring the vibe really to wherever I am and make sure everyone’s comfortable in the situation that they’re in and be there for anyone who ever needs anything really.’
On top of her vibrant approach to life, Muscat also has the desire to explore the world and is hoping to do so with her teammates when they get the chance.
‘I want to travel the world, I just want to leave and I wish I could leave now but obviously, I wouldn’t leave footy as well,’ she said.
‘I would love to do a girl’s trip in Europe that is certainly on my bucket list and I also want to go to Cambodia or Africa; COVID finishes, and do some volunteering to help out those in need.’
‘It would be pretty awesome being able to give back, because that will be part of what I would do with my job when I become qualified with the Bachelor of Criminal Justice, I can help and work with young people.’
Although Mia Muscat is only 20 years old, she has accomplished plenty in her life so far but she has barely scratched the surface of what she is capable, not only on the football field but off it as well.