There is a real buzz at the SBS headquarters in Sydney as a diverse blend of creative Australians telling six billion stories hustle around the building planning and preparing various television shows. It’s here I meet the newest addition of the stalwart football programme The World Game, Lucy Zelic.

New face of Friday night football Lucy Zelic. Credit: SBS

The former Miss Universe Australia finalist is on a tight schedule. With a photoshoot late the previous night and a filmed interview following mine, it’s clear SBS are excited to introduce Zelic to football fans as they seek to build momentum for their free-to-air coverage of the Hyundai A-League.

A football tragic, Zelic – yes, sister to Ned – hosted the Official Hyundai A-League podcast last year and her background in and knowledge of the game is extensive. But can she play?

“No I’m terrible; absolutely ghastly,” exclaims Zelic with a smile.

“I like to have a good kick around on the beach but as far as anything else goes my passion for it comes from the sidelines and reporting.”

A stunning brunette on a football show seems to be par for the course these days with Mel McLaughlin paving the way for Tara Rushton and now Zelic. Female sports presenters are subject to more scrutiny from viewers so, whilst it shouldn’t be the case, it is still a somewhat brave decision to front up to camera.

“The more women we have in football the better, I think it’s fantastic. People will be keen to pit us against one another and draw comparisons but I’m really excited.”

When the A-League first launched in 2005 Zelic casually followed the Newcastle Jets where her brother played but is now passionate for the red and black hoops of the Wanderers. Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund round out her European support but it’s the A-League newcomers who have won her heart.

“Massive Western Sydney supporter. I came on from about Round 10 last season which was ironically when they were tipped at about 50 to 1 to win or even come close to the Grand Final.

“So I definitely didn’t jump on the bandwagon! They were doing terribly when I started supporting them so I just want to make that clear.

“It all really hit home with me when I went to watch one of their games and the passion from the crowd and the stands reminded me of the old NSL days when I used to go and watch the boys [brothers Ned and Ivan] play.”

The SBS free-to-air coverage of the A-League will centre around one Friday night game each week as well as a weekly highlights show and some as yet exciting unannounced programming. It comes as no surprise that Lucy Zelic is thrilled to be a part of the SBS team for season nine, citing the evenness of the A-League competition as what she is most looking forward to.

“It’s unpredictable. It’s not like the English Premier League where you’ve always got the top four teams you know who’s going to finish there. We may get a surprise – Wellington struggled last year but they may really surprise us and come out and finish on top this year.”

Whilst it can’t be guaranteed that the Phoenix will do well this season one thing is certain; Lucy Zelic and SBS are exceptional additions to the broadcasting of the Hyundai A-League.

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Editor of The Football Sack for three years, Matthew now spends his time sipping Merlot whilst watching the latest installment of Thursday FC.