Melissa Barbieri has made an enormous contribution to football in Victoria, as a player, a coach and an ambassador of the game.
She began her career in football as an 8 year old, competing in boy’s teams with her brother. At the age of 10, she was told she wasn’t allowed to play in an all-boys team anymore. It wasn’t until she was 14 that she came back to the game when her mother was finally able to find her a girls team to play with. Luckily for us she did, because soon after, this very talented midfielder made her way into Victorian and Australian youth representative squads.
Although Barbieri forced her way into Victorian squads as a very successful midfielder, in 2000, aged 20, a back injury forced her to stop playing in her outfield role. Undaunted, she made the switch to becoming a goalkeeper and only a year later, in 2001, she had earned her place as a goalkeeper in the Matildas squad.
The following year Melissa made her international debut in Canada, and then in 2003, experienced the great honour of representing Australia in her very first FIFA Women's World Cup.
Barbieri represented Australia in an incredible four World Cups, one of only two Australian women to do so. She has earned the title of Olympian having represented Australia in the Athens Olympic Games in 2004 and had the great honour of captaining the Matildas when they won the 2010 AFC Women’s Asian Cup. The Matildas were the very first Australian team to win an Asian international competition.
Since her debut for ITC Victoria in 1996, Barbieri has competed in an incredible 18 season across the Women's National Soccer League and W-League, having featured as captain in many of those teams.
She became the first Victorian female to undertake her A-Licence coaching accreditation.
If all that wasn’t inspiring enough, in January 2013, she undertook a new challenge, giving birth to a baby girl, Holly. Determined to balance motherhood with elite football, she managed to work her way back into the W-League competition only 7 months later for Adelaide United – remarkably winning the league's award for goalkeeper of the year. This was the second time she had won the W- League’s top goalkeeping award, the first time being for Melbourne Victory in the inaugural W-League season in 2008-2009.
Her comeback post child-birth was complete when she was called up to represent the Matilda’s in her fourth World Cup campaign in 2015. Remarkably, her first international and her last were in Canada. After earning an incredible 86 caps for Australia, she retired from international football at the 2015 Football Victoria Gold Medal night, the same night she was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Barbieri notched up another milestone as part of the Melbourne City team in the 2019/20 W-League season, where she turned 40 in January.