It’s been a tough week for Chelsea Randall after a tear to her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) ended her 2020 season campaign last Monday.

In her own words, the AFLW co-captain has penned a letter to Crows fans about her devastating injury, the support she’s received and what comes next.

The moment

Only forty-five minutes into our 2020 pre-season, and we were doing one of my favourite drills. 

I had just given Anne Hatchard a cheeky little fend off, full of smiles and enjoying my footy.

And then an unfortunate change of direction led me to buckle under my knee. I remember trying to get up immediately, but I just couldn’t. The pain was there, but I was hopeful it wouldn’t be an ACL.

I eventually got myself up and walked off the field. I just wanted to make sure everyone else was alright and didnt want to worry them. I just gave everyone a high five and a thumbs up as they walked past me after the session finished. 

The next day I had a scan and received the results. It was a bit of a shock to the system because I had been so positive thinking that it was just an MCL or something. 

It took me some time to process it. I decided I needed to let people know that it had happened because I didn’t want it to come from another person or another source.

Erin was one of the first that I told. She was really supportive and wanted to make sure that I was alright. She’s an absolute champion and she’s looking really good, hopefully she can make it out onto the field for both of us this year.

The response

When I posted on socials, the influx of messages that came through was so overwhelming. 

View this post on Instagram

And just like that, 45minutes into the journey to AFLW Season 4, a wrong change of direction, and it’s all over. Scans confirm my ruptured ACL this morning. I’ll be standing proud and strong beside my beloved teammates this season, watching them shine from the sidelines. I am overwhelmed with the amount of messages and calls of love and support that have come in over the past few hours. Thank you to both AFL players, AFLW players, coaches, family, friends, supporters, opposition supporters and others who have reached out, it means so much. No doubt I’ll have ups and downs but I am so fortunate to have such amazing people like you in my life. It’s disappointing of course, yet there are worse people off, the sun will still come out tomorrow and there are so many remarkable athletes, men and women, who have been down this journey before. The universe has bigger and better plans for me this season. I’m a huge believer that things happen for a reason, sometimes we just don’t quite understand what the reasons are initially. Ps I’ve changed the ACL club to the “Amazing Courageous Legends Club” haha. If you are on the same journey let’s smash it together, and to those who have been there before your resilience is inspiring to many. AFLW Season 2021 look out, imma coming for ya! 438 days to get faster and stronger.

A post shared by Chelsea Randall (@chelsearandall26) on

Hearing from people who you haven’t spoken to in ages or that you wouldn’t think to hear from and hearing other people’s journeys.

Lots of athletes, both men and women, have been through a similar injury and that gives me really high hopes that I’ll be able to return just like them back to the field - bigger, better, stronger.

AFLW has such a strong, supportive community, even with opposition players, coaches and supporters. 

All my teammates and all our supporters have been really amazing and I can’t thank them enough for their support and for reaching out to me with positive messages.

It’s really lovely to hear that I have been in people’s thoughts.

Seeing that photo of me on the monitor at the draft was a really nice gesture.

I sent Hamish an email, just to thank him for his thoughts. It just shows how special our football club is.  One club.  It’s not just about the boys team, the girls team, or our SANFL, it’s about everyone coming together.

That’s what I love about our Club.

Heading home

I hadn’t planned to head back to Perth, I was going to stay in Adelaide for Christmas, but I decided before surgery I should go over to see my family and make sure that they knew I was okay. 

Plus, my best mate is back from Africa and had a baby a couple of weeks ago, so it was a great opportunity for me to see her and help out with bub.

It’s been great for me to spend time with them all.

What’s next

There is a bit of research that suggests having a few weeks of prehab prior to surgery is beneficial in the long run. So I’m going to take advantage of that and aim to have surgery before Christmas.

As for the team, I’m still having conversations with Doc (Clarke) about what my role might look like for me. My main focus is to get my rehab right and support my teammates where possible. 

And if that’s in a coaching role or just assisting others where I can - I just want to make sure I still play an important role for the girls in the near future.

I’ve got some great support with players who have done an ACL previously or currently going through the rehab process. So no doubt will lean on each other during the challenging times. 

No matter what, I’ll have my dog Koda by my side - after all, she knows a thing or two about ACL injuries.

She’s done two - her first was two or three years ago and she had surgery. And then this time last year she did her other knee. I know there’s a bit of a journey ahead of me and truly believe things happen for a reason.

But honestly can’t thank the club and everyone enough for their support. 2021 here I come.