Sarah Lampard celebrates a goal during Melbourne's qualifying final against Adelaide on November 4, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

SARAH Lampard is one of four remaining inaugural Melbourne AFLW players.

Now 26, the low-fuss Demon has grown up alongside the wider NAB AFL Women's competition, the blonde ponytail bouncing its way off half-back time and time again, all the way to a premiership in 2022.

Along with Paxy Paxman, Lily Mithen and Lauren Pearce, Lampard has been at Melbourne since the very beginning, but is arguably the most unheralded of the quartet.

There's far more to Lampard than her speed and neat kick out of Melbourne's backline.

She's in the tail end of a masters in public health, and is aiming to then begin a PhD, focusing on women's health and elite athletes.

"I'm also working in research at La Trobe University as well, which is awesome, doing evaluation work in female athlete area, and hopefully I can continue working in that space for my PhD as well," Lampard told

Sarah Lampard in action during Melbourne's clash against Geelong in round five, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

"There's not a lot of resources for female athletes, there's a big knowledge gap, particularly when it comes to health considerations and performance. There's this health gap. There are some resources out there that have been created, but they've never been evaluated to see if the knowledge has been translated to female athletes. 

"We're trying to do some work with some modules the AIS have created to see how we can better implement them, or if they are being implemented correctly as well. That's been a really good project, I've learned heaps so far, and hopefully it can set me up off the back of that as well."

Generally speaking, research into any of the wide-ranging effects of the menstrual cycle is in its comparative infancy, let alone the more specific area of elite athletes who have periods.

"We're specifically focusing on the menstrual cycle, but there's a whole heap of modules that focus on a lot of areas, like low energy availability, or pelvic floor health, all things that affect performance and wellbeing of female athletes," Lampard said.

"But it's whether we can help athletes and their support systems understand them better, so they can perform better and feel better going to training and games."

Sarah Lampard in action at Melbourne training on June 1, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Lampard is set to play a different role in 2024, having already featured in two VFLW games this season playing on the wing and up forward.

She's kicked just five goals in her 60 AFLW games, such has been her defensive focus for the past eight seasons.

"It's been nice. I've been playing in the backline since season two, so it's been really refreshing to learn a new role and play in a different line group as well," Lampard said. 

"I'm really excited heading into the season, new line coach, new players I'm playing directly with, and then the little intricacies of playing higher up the ground as well. I'm really looking forward to getting stuck into that a bit more when pre-season starts."

Melbourne infamously crashed out of the finals in a straight-sets exit, just like the club's men's team earlier that year.

Maeve Chaplin and Paxy Paxman look dejected after Melbourne's semi-final loss to Geelong on November 19, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

But it'll be a different Dees side to take to the field in 2024, with eight of Melbourne's squad of 31 having departed.

"We've had a bit of a changeover in the off-season which has been refreshing for the group and heaps of new faces, everyone's feeling really good and excited," Lampard said.

"I think we had a bit of a bad run going into our Brisbane game in round 10. We didn't perform the way we wanted, and it was just a bad time of year to have a bit of a form slump. 

"To be fair, North (Melbourne) were fantastic in the first week of finals, and Geelong was awesome in the second week. 


"It's crazy, we played Geelong earlier in the season and beat them quite convincingly, but you can't just rest on your laurels and expect if we roll out the same thing, come finals and the pressure's better, that we can just roll over and beat them again. 

"They were awesome, and it's shaping up to be a good round one battle (against the Cats), because we're out for some redemption here. Hopefully we can get the win."

Melbourne's off-season changes

Ins: Grace Beasley, Grace Hill, Lily Johnson, Delany Madigan, Alyssia Pisano, Jemma Rigoni, Ryleigh Wotherspoon, Jacinta Hose (inactive, ACL)

Outs: Libby Birch (North Melbourne), Maddi Gay (Essendon), Casey Sherriff, Eliza West (Hawthorn), Charlotte Wilson (Gold Coast), Georgie Fowler (retired), Jordi Ivey, Sammie Johnson (delisted)