Crows Captain prepares to kick goals in the classroom

Crows AFLW player Chelsea Randall on her teaching placement at Henley Beach Primary School.

She’s won three premierships and been named in the All-Australian team four times, but finishing her teaching degree is up there with Chelsea Randall’s greatest achievements yet.

It’s been 12 years in the making, so it’s little wonder Randall feels emotional when she thinks about finishing her university degree in 2023.

The Crows AFLW Captain has been studying part-time with UniSA and, between her work and football commitments, gaining her degree has taken longer than she would have liked.

But for Randall the significant journey makes the qualifications even more special.

“To be honest, I never thought I was smart enough to be able to do it. It’s been challenging the last 12 years but now to be able to say I’ve got a degree behind me and a plan for post footy, it makes me emotional to think about,” Randall says.

“There were times when I questioned why I was doing it, it’s certainly been a juggle trying to work full time and captain an elite footy team as well as study, but the flexible arrangements and support I’ve had from family, friends, colleagues, and the uni has made it all possible.

“If I wasn’t in footy season when my final assignment is handed in, I’d probably be celebrating like I’d won a premiership.”

Tertiary study wasn’t always part of the plan for the 32-year-old.

“When I finished high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do, I didn’t do the courses needed to get into university, I had this belief in my head I wasn’t academic and wouldn’t get in,” Randall says.

“I was working at Swan Districts as community programs officer and started doing a lot of school visits, some of the teachers started asking if I was studying teaching and they said I should, that I’d make a great teacher.

“It gave me the belief that maybe I could do it, and so I thought maybe I’ll have a crack at uni. I knew I loved working with young kids and wanted to make a difference, because I’ve had some amazing teachers and coaches that have had a real impact on me.”

Randall commenced her teaching degree in her home state of WA before transferring to UniSA when she moved to Adelaide in 2016 to join the Crows for the inaugural AFLW season.

“When I moved to Adelaide I was going to try and continue my study externally, but I found that was a hard way for me to learn,” Randall says.

“I was lucky that UniSA were able to transfer me across, so I’ve been able to do a mixture of online and on-campus study which has been an amazing help with fitting around life and football.

“I’ve loved being a student there – I’ve gone to Magill, Mawson Lakes, the City East and West campuses – and I’ve had incredible lecturers and tutors.

“I’ve kayaked the Coorong, visited remote Indigenous communities, rock climbed and navigated my way off trail through our bushwalking leadership course in Mount Remarkable, so there’s been some fantastic experiences.

“I can’t thank UniSA enough.”

Randall is incredibly enthusiastic about the profession.

story8a.jpgChelsea Randall with Henley Beach Primary School students holding the 2022 AFLW Championship Cup.

“I’m passionate about teaching, I think teachers do an amazing job,” Randall says.

“They wear so many different hats, they’re not just a teacher they’re also a carer and a coach and even a nurse as well at times. They play a very important role in students’ lives and how they learn not just the educational content, but about life in general.

“I think every student deserves a champion in their life, and for a lot of students their champion may not actually come from home, it may come from a school teacher or a football coach.

“That’s something that sits with me, the power to impact and influence and support someone throughout their journey and I was very lucky to have some amazing teachers and coaches around me that helped me through my journey, so I just want to pay that forward to the next generation.”

As for the future, Randall is hoping she can combine teaching and footy with her new role as a mum, after having her first child with partner Marijana Rajcic at the end of October.

“I did consider jumping straight into a psychology degree,” Randall says.

“I really value education. I love learning and I love being able to apply what I’ve learnt at university in different parts of my life.

“I have another year on my contract coaching in the AFL program and any time I have outside of that and my own footy commitments, I’m going to enjoy being a mum.”

And that is sure to be her greatest achievement yet.