Knee injuries have been front and centre of our minds in recent times, with a number of Westfield Matildas and Westfield W-League players ruled out by them this past year. But the players have found a way to cope with (and even have a laugh about) those misbehaving knees: KneeClub.

Knee injuries have been front and centre of our minds in recent times, with a number of Westfield Matildas and Westfield W-League players ruled out by them this past year. But the players have found a way to cope with (and even have a laugh about) those misbehaving knees: KneeClub.

What is KneeClub?

Loz (Lauren Colthorpe): ‘KneeClub- has existed in silence for a few years now and was given its name through this past Westfield W-League season. It was developed as a humorous support network for the transition from integral team member one day to water girl the next. It-s always a little awkward turning up to a game as an injured player. ‘Do I go in the change rooms? Am I expected to carry the gear? How can I help on crutches?- All these questions can be tricky for an injured player, thus the need for KneeClub.

KK (Elise Kellond-Knight): I thought membership was exclusively Queensland and was issued to those not playing in the recent Westfield W-League, i.e. Loz, Chaps, myself, Ash ... someone please clarify this, ha?

How do you become a member?

Loz: Through a knee injury that usually involves 6+ months on the sidelines. We cater to ACL tears, meniscal and articular cartilage damage, and I-ve recently brought osteonecrosis into the fold. No sprains, strains warrant any form of membership, although the snapping of a ligament would. A positive attitude is also a pre-requisite—sympathy isn't our strong suit.

KK: Membership is not sought. It finds you.

Chaps (Amy Chapman): Memberships pre-reqs are a: 1. knee injury requiring surgery 2. positive attitude. There is also a ‘hall of fame- to pay tribute to the ‘greats-.

Who are the current members?

Loz: Our Brisbane Roar contingent consists of Elise Kellond-Knight, Amy Chapman, Ashley Spina, and myself [Editor's note: Jo Burgess, pictured, also recently re-joined]. Caitlin Munoz of Canberra United is our archdiocese of the core group, and Sam Kerr also qualifies if she wishes to take up membership. Snap backs are not part of club attire though.

KK: Loz, Chappy, myself, Ash, Soozie, Sophie, at QAS.

Chaps: The Qld crew + perhaps Munoz, Sammy Kerr, Katie Gill?

[Editor-s note: Kim Carroll might be up for membership consideration, but we-re really hoping not.]

What does membership involve?

Loz: Membership offers players a support group, a home away from home during their injury, and a social setting with like-minded individuals experiencing similar frustrations. I know at the QAS, at least, we would also meet for gym and seated boxing sessions.

KK: Participation in rehab sessions, continual support, regular emotional help.

Chaps: Not available for comment.

How did you come up with the name?

Loz: Well it's a knee club, so we called it KneeClub.

KK: Colthorpe's imagination.

Chaps: Loz has a way with words.

Is there a president, secretary, meetings, etc?

Loz: Titles are thrown around the group, but a leadership group is yet to be decided on. It-s been suggested your rank will be decided on how many knee surgeries you've undergone, so it-s currently a hung parliament. Chaps and I are both on five.

KK: Yet to be voted on I believe. Who is campaigning?

Chaps: Informal meetings occur often with gloves and pads.

It-s not perhaps a club you want to be a member of, but what are the perks of it?

Loz: The perks don't out way the suffering, but I-d say to be able to enjoy a chat and cool beverage instead of having to do our boring, mundane warm-up would be a plus. The day I retire will be because I'm done with that warm-up. Actually, it'll be because of my knees. But if it wasn't, it-d be because I-m done with that warm-up.

KK: Feeling included. When there are people around you going through the same thing and having to do similar rehab, it motivates you a little more.

Chaps: Fitting in to smaller jeans is a perk :)

KK: Agree with Chappy: Smaller ass and legs are the highlight.

What have you learnt?

Loz: Well some guys are good with cars. We are good with knees (but bad with our own). Ours have broken down a little too often so to speak and from spending as much time in physio/rehab/doctors appointments as a man does on his your car, you-re bound to learn a lot. Translating MRI reports would be my specialty.

KK: KneeClub has taught me to appreciate having a normal, functioning body. I didn't pay senior members of KneeClub enough respect before my injury.

Chaps: I've learnt that women don't have the ‘relative- VMO and hamstring strength that our male counterparts have and are, therefore, more susceptible to knee injuries at the highest level. I-ve learnt that you can never do enough glute activation exercises, and if you hear a ‘pop- that-s probably not good.

Knee rehab is long and frustrating (potentially more so than other injuries). How does KneeClub help?

Loz: KneeClub helps you through the psychological and emotional battles to get back on the park. As we-re all going through the same things we-re supportive but not overly sympathetic of each other. We promote a tough environment and save the tears for the surgical consults. Though we do get annoyed seeing people cry because they miss two sessions with a muscle strain … other than that we just laugh at each others- misfortune and remind ourselves it could be a lot worse! A good friend of the KneeClub is QAS paralympian Matty Cameron, who walks around the gym on his hands, probably wishing he could the things we do in our rehab.

Chaps: KneeClub has taught me to appreciate the times when you are fit and healthy, be patient, remain positive, and find new ways to maintain fitness.

Is there a bit of friendly competition or heckling to make sure everyone does their rehab 100%?

Loz: Not really, to be honest. It-s more the risk of overdoing it, which has proven our undoing.

Chaps: Comparing quad size is a common occurrence.

Obviously it-d be your goal for KneeClub to become obsolete. Is the high incidence of injuries/recurring injuries something you talk about?

Loz: Well with knees usually the forced topic of conversation we do discuss current trends. This year has been ACL season and we've seen a downturn of meniscal injuries, which seemed to be the flavour of 2007.

KK: Yes, the previous year has been worrying with how frequent knee injuries have been. Hopefully this year we turn a page and don't have a repeat of high incidence.

Chaps: Yes, women-s football is renowned for knee injuries. Our sport is very demanding on our knees, particularly at the intensity at Westfield W-League and international levels. I-ve read many articles on the correlation between the menstrual cycle and ligament tears and the correlation of inadequate hamstring and VMO strength with knee injuries.

There have been a few ‘former- KneeClub members (although not necessarily by the official title), e.g. Sarah Walsh, Thea Slatyer. What advice have they had for you?

Loz: I'm not sure they know KneeClub exists, but if we had a clubhouse their pictures would be mantled on the wall. As Walshy-s last surgery was similar to mine we-ve talked a fair bit. She constantly reminds me that if she can make it back, then anyone can. My knee looks pretty good next to hers.

Chaps: Their performance on the field even after all their injuries speaks louder than any words, and the fact that no matter how many knee ops Walshy has, she's still uncatchable over 20m. That-s pretty inspirational.

Do you get a bit sick of people asking how your knee is?

Loz: Haha, yesss. It-s become people-s way of saying hello now, even while walking past—most aren-t even still there to hear the answer.

KK: With KneeClub come expectations to talk about your knee.

Chaps: YESSS!!! If it-s good, we'll probably initiate the conversation, ha.

Knee injuries tend to be long term and no footballer likes sitting on the sidelines during games. How does KneeClub help with that?

Loz: Moral support, company. We are the team away from the team.

KK: The feeling of being included in KneeClub helps counteract the feeling of exclusion from the team that comes with our knee injuries.

Any advice for fans who-ve injured their knees?

Loz: Retire (kidding!). Work hard on your rehab and be patient. Sometimes you have to take a step back to take one forward. Listen to your body. Don-t ignore your pain—let it be your guide. I-ve learnt that the hard way.

KK: Find other things that you enjoy and try to stay motivated.

Chaps: Give yourself ‘small goals-. Stay focused and be positive :)

Funny moments in KneeClub?

Loz: Apart from the common laugh, the only story that comes to mind was unfortunately at my expense. While still on crutches I had to hop around the gym on my non-injured leg to get from one machine to the next when I landed on a weight plate, rolled my ankle, and bit the dust in front of the men-s volleyball team. I left the gym swinging on my crutches like Tarzan in the treetops till I made it home to the couch :-/

Anything else fans should know about?

Loz: I think they've heard enough.