Chelsea Fisher had a dream.
In 2014, she approached the AJAX Football Club with the idea of incorporating a women’s team into the club – the first in its 60-year history.
To her delight, this previously unheard-of idea was met with support and could now become a reality for Fisher if she willingly put in the hard yards.
So, that’s exactly what she did.
She got to work; tirelessly advertising, driving and recruiting enthusiastic women just like herself to create her very own dream team in the Victorian Women’s Football League (VWFL).
As 2015 neared its end, Fisher’s dream became a reality.
There, on November 25th 2015, 30 eager women took to Gary Smorgon Oval, brought together by a love of competition, fearlessness, sport and of course, Chelsea Fisher.
That was three years ago. Looking back, Fisher and her team, the ‘Jackettes’, are constantly improving, bonding and etching their names into AJAX and VAFA Women’s football history.
But it wasn’t all that easy for the South African migrant who came to Australia in 2009 to begin her new life as a Melburnian.
She immediately began her search for her niche; a sport that incorporated the skill of soccer (the game she grew up playing in South Africa), but allowed and encouraged her to use her on-field aggression and ferociousness in a positive way.
When Fisher discovered Australian Rules, she instantly fell in love with the game and regularly kicked the oval ball around during school lunch breaks.
“I just knew this was the sport for me,” Fisher said, who continued to play football throughout the rest of her schooling years.
However, as school drew to a close, Fisher, who wanted to pursue her AFL career, struggled to find a team, prompting her to take matters into her own hands and push to create a women’s team that allowed many diverse females to share her passion.
From there, she strived to build a team full of “powerful women” wanting to follow their dreams and truly understand that anything could be possible.
“I have always wanted to empower women, especially in sport, and this is why I was determined to create this opportunity for myself and other women who felt the same way.”
Fittingly, Fisher was selected as the inaugural captain of the Jackettes and recently led her side to seven wins and the minor premiership in Development Division 3 last year.
Finals pressure got the better of the team and their campaign ended in heartbreak as they suffered consecutive two-point losses to eventual grand finalists, Mazenod and Old Mentonians. Unsurprisingly, Fisher was in the Jackette’s best players on both occasions as she desperately tried to will her team over the line.
AJAX Secretary Peter Kagan praised Fisher’s courage, stating they “wouldn’t have a team without her”.
He also recognised the toughness of the inaugural captain, whose robust physical superiority consistently shines through.
“She’d be 150cm or something like that, so not very tall. But she’s very fiery, very dogged, very tough and rough, she’s built like a bulldog, actually.”
Chelsea credits her toughness to her two older brothers who brought her up to be a durable, hard-nosed young woman.
“It was instilled in me from an early age that toughness was key,” she said.
Fisher, who is known as ‘Bulldog’ on the field, won the VAFA Division 3 competition best and fairest in 2017, polling 23 votes, four clear of Rebekah Watson from Mazenod. Capping off an outstanding year for the fearless pioneer, Fisher polled in nine of her 14 games, including four best-on-ground performances.
Fittingly, eight other AJAX players polled votes.
The whole Jackettes team is now looking forward to the 2018 season, keen to go one step further and secure a grand final berth.
As for Fisher, she’s just looking forward to the surreal feeling of running out in the red, white and black with so many powerful women.
“I hope to gain more knowledge about the game and challenge myself more. As for the Jackettes, we have our hearts set on the premiership.”
At the 2017 Women’s Awards Night, VAFA Women’s Football Development Manager Shona MacInnes said ‘these adventurous and progressive women changed things for the better’.
She was talking about women….just like Chelsea Fisher.