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Chelsea's captain's call

Crows sign Chelsea Randall Hear from new Crow Chelsea Randall who will be part of our women's team in 2017.
It wasn’t until last night when Tex Walker gave us a call – myself and Kellie Gibson – it started to sink in that this is actually happening,
Chelsea Randall

It took a phone call from Taylor Walker for Crows recruit Chelsea Randall to fully comprehend that her dream of playing Australian Football at the highest level was about to come true.

On Wednesday, Randall and Swan Districts teammate Kellie Gibson were unveiled as the Adelaide-NT team’s two ‘marquee’ players for the 2017 national women’s competition.

The West Australian was “still pinching herself” when she landed in Adelaide on Tuesday evening ahead of the official announcement. Soon after arriving, her phone rang and it was Walker on the other end.

“It wasn’t until last night when Tex Walker gave us a call – myself and Kellie Gibson – it started to sink in that this is actually happening,” Randall said on Wednesday.

“When I was 11-years-old … we weren’t able to play football. We weren’t allowed to. So, to be given an opportunity now to be playing football at the most elite level in the AFL and to be wearing the yellow, blue and red colours for the Adelaide Crows is amazing.

“I feel so honoured and privileged to be a part of the Adelaide Football Club.

“They first started in 1991 and that’s when I was born. It might sound a bit corny there … but maybe it was something destined to happen.”

Randall, 25, has been heavily involved in the game for 15 years.

She started playing football competitively as an 11-year-old in regional WA. Randall played alongside and against boys for three years before a female football pathway became available.

“One day I was just kicking the football around with my Dad at half time of my brother’s match,” she said.

“One of the Under-11s, I like to say, ‘poached’ me and asked if I’d like to fill in for the boys team. I filled in and haven’t stopped playing footy since.”

As was the norm, Randall progressed to playing against women at age 14.

“There was no option for me to play girls football, junior girls, Auskick or youth girls’ football at that time,” she said.

“For me to jump from boys straight into an open women’s competition where I was playing against 30-40 year-old women was a bit of an eye-opener.”

Randall was selected to play for WA at state level for the first time at age 15.

A physical, athletic and highly professional midfielder/forward would go onto represent her state a total of four times, earning All Australian status three times. She captained the WA team in 2013.

In the same year, Randall was selected by Melbourne with pick No.3 in the inaugural AFL Women’s Draft. She stunned the crowd with her smarts and skill in the first AFL Women’s Exhibition Match that year, before backing up in 2014 with a best-on-ground performance.

Randall provided one of the most memorable moments of the exhibition series in 2014. With a contested mark up for grabs, Randall put her body on the line and clutched the ball as she collided mid-air with the equally fearless Lauren Morecroft.

Where most players would have taken the time to catch a breath, Randall instead created the next play. She sprinted to the Dees goal square and back-heeled the ball out of congestion and through for a crucial goal.

A modest Randall plays down her ‘hard-hitting’ tag.

“Myself and another player collided mid-air,” she said of the incident.

“There was a bit of a crowd there and they made a commotion about it.

“When they play it on slow-mo, it probably looks worse than what it was!”

Randall is also having an influence on the game away from the playing field.

After starting out as a receptionist at Swan Districts, Randall has taken on various roles within the club and now delivers female football programs that provide opportunities for girls to play football in remote and regional communities.

She currently works in the isolated Pilbara region, a 13-hour drive from Perth. Randall’s work saw her awarded the prestigious Jill Lindsay Scholarship in May.

The scholarship, which is named in honour of the AFL’s longest serving employee Jill Lindsay, is presented to the female graduate with the most potential to become an industry leader from the AFL SportsReady program. 

“When I first graduated high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I actually worked with my Dad as a labourer, so I was digging holes for a living,” she said.

“I got a phone call from my state football coach and was asked if I’d like to do a traineeship with the Swan Districts Football Club. I gave the shovel away and having been working in footy ever since.

“Currently, I work up north at the top of WA in a small, red-dirt town called Newman. It’s a fair distance from the city and my family and friends but it’s an amazing community up there.

“My role up there is working in the high school. I run football and netball programs to engage kids in attending school and positive behaviours.”

Remarkably Randall, who plans to relocate to Adelaide in September, is not the first Crow to come from the remote town of Newman.

Lively forward Charlie Cameron, who crossed paths with Randall at Swan Districts, was also recruited from the area after his parents moved from Queensland to WA for work.

“Charlie Cameron is from Newman. All his family and friends are up there as well,” Randall said.

“They all speak very highly of Charlie, so I’m very fortunate to be at a Club where I’m following where Charlie is going as well.”