“I felt so relieved when the game was over, I never realised I was that tense,” admitted a normally relaxed Chelsea Roffey who umpired her 200th AFL game in the Western Bulldogs v North Melbourne game at Etihad Stadium.
Chelsea began her AFL career out of Brisbane in 2004 before moving to Melbourne in 2007 to continue her career both with the AFL and as a journalist. Chelsea is as competitive as any umpire on the list and will pit her skills against the best. “It is cliched, but we all want to be the best we possibly can be,” reflected Chelsea when we rang to wish her the best for her milestone game.
“The one thing I have learned to do over time is to simply enjoy what I am doing. I have been so focused and determined, there were times that I just didn’t enjoy what I was doing. Game day is great and you learn to enjoy that more every time you walk out. You also learn to enjoy the other bits and pieces that make up umpiring, including training and coaching, because it keeps you fit and healthy. The additional support you get from colleagues and coaches add value to everything you do.”
Chelsea is now the fourth most experienced goal umpire on the current panel, behind Dixon, Walker and Appleton. She sits very comfortably in that group. Her 200 games are made up of 14 finals and the 2012 grand final. Chelsea did her apprenticeship by sitting as the grand final emergency umpire in 2010 and 2011.
Chelsea’s legacy is laid bare for all to see. The AFL goal umpires panel consists of the best 27 umpires from around Australia. There are now 3 women (11% of the panel) included in the best. “Obviously being a female goal umpire has been a big part of my life, I am very conscious of being part of the conversation about gender and sending the right messages to all people in football.”
Chelsea is inspired by many people but her family hold a special place. “I am very privileged to have the opportunity to choose my path because of the choices made by my parents and grandparents. They worked hard and survived many hardships. They instilled self belief in me and gave me much confidence to meet my challenges head on.”
“It’s nice to keep things in perspective. I like to keep things low-key, it’s for other people to celebrate milestones. I just like to keep moving forward.”
Well done Chelsea. We are up for celebrating all milestones – because it’s what we do.