As one of the country’s premier female footballers, Chelsea Randall has faced her fair share of adversity.
But nothing could prepare her for the challenge which Sunday’s AFL women’s fixture at Etihad Stadium presents.
Randall, who starred in the inaugural fixture between Melbourne and Western Bulldogs last year, was preparing to head east earlier this week when she received a phone call which rocked her world.
Her grandmother, and No.1 fan, Rose Pember had lost her seven-month battle with cancer.
“It’s been a pretty emotional ride and I’m sure this week will be even more emotional,” Randall said.
“She helped me become the person I am today and I’m proud to have had the time with her that I did.
“She came to last year’s game and was watching and it was pretty amazing, so I know she’ll be watching from a bigger grandstand up in the sky. I know she’ll be proud of all the girls running out there on Sunday.”
Randall described her grandmother as a football nut who scared the daylights out of junior footballers during a short stint of coaching her son’s team in the under-8s.
The Swan Districts midfielder briefly considered pulling out of the game this week, but instead decided there was no better occasion to honour the woman who had supported her passion from day dot.
“I think she almost timed it perfectly, she didn’t want any game to be a tribute, just a normal club game, she wanted the big one to be remembered by,” Randall said.
“I’m definitely playing this game as a tribute to my gran.”
Sunday’s fixture between Melbourne and Western Bulldogs will be the second time the AFL have sanctioned a women’s match between the two clubs after a victory to the Demons last
The two sides will field a combined 16 West Australians, however this year’s No.1 women’s draft pick Tiah Haynes is a noticeable omission after rupturing a knee ligament week after being selected.