Having navigated the sweaty, testosterone-fuelled world of the AFL, Chelsea Roffey is paving the way for gender equity, helping organisations and individuals to challenge perceptions and realise the power of diversity.
As the only woman to umpire in an AFL Grand Final, and being named Official of the Year by sporting bodies in Queensland and Victoria, her pathway to success is both motivational and inspirational.
Chelsea Roffey is the first and only female to have officiated in an Australian Football League Grand Final in the exacting role of a goal umpire. This achievement was even recognised by Prime Minister Gillard who visited Chelsea to personally congratulate her.
A self-confessed Aussie Rules footy tragic, she was born in the footy-loving town of Wallaroo on South Australia’s York Peninsula then moved to Queensland with her family relishing backyard kicking sessions with her brothers and watching the elite from the Gabba stands.
She learnt the skills of goal umpiring while studying for a Bachelor of Music majoring in clarinet at the Queensland Conservatorium where she had been awarded a full academic scholarship. After a stint studying biomedical science, she switched to journalism, a move that coincided with an opening on the AFL panel in 2004 after five years umpiring locally in Brisbane.
Chelsea's journey in football has been fuelled by a tenacious desire to reach the top of her game in a highly scrutinised, starkly male domain. She is regularly called upon to share her insights into overcoming challenges, goal setting and performing under pressure. Her stories are unique and entertaining, drawing on her ability to engage across cultures and backgrounds.
Capturing the power of sport as a metaphor, she is able to relate her experiences with warmth and humour, whether addressing a room full of footy fanatics or young women in the corporate sphere.
Her positive, engaging style has led to ambassadorial roles for Breast Cancer Network Australia, the Liptember Foundation and the AFL Victoria Umpiring Academy.
Chelsea's leadership experience as a former school captain, recipient of the Queen's Trust Award and Pierre de Coubertin Award for Sportsmanship has enhanced her advocacy through positions on there AFL Umpires' Association Executive and the AFL Diversity Council.
Recognised as Official of the Year by Queensland and Victorian state sporting bodies, and listed in The Age newspaper's top 100 most influential people, her desire to pave the way for gender equity has extended beyond the realms of sport. She has been an invited guest of APEC attending their Women's Leadership Forum in Beijing, and in 2014 undertook a Winston Churchill Fellowship travelling to the US, Canada, UK, Sweden and India to study strategies for influencing social change that enables and encourages girls to be the authors of their own lives.
Chelsea Roffey has not just broken the glass ceiling - she has shattered it.
Chelsea travels from Melbourne.
“We really enjoyed having you speak at both functions and have received some great feedback from those involved…
Thanks so much again Chelsea for all the thought, time and energy you put into your presentations, most appreciated.”Office for Recreation and Sport, South Australia
Just wanted to say a huge thank-you for your attendance at our Women's Network dinner last night.
We have had nothing but positive comments today with everyone enjoying your talk and your focus!
Quite inspiring for us, and something we really needed.”Shell Refinery Women’s Network
“We had such good feedback from you the parents and students loved you.
It really hit the button and what we were trying to get across.”
“A big thank you to everyone for giving up their time this morning to attend our Grand Final breakfast event.
I think you will all agree that Chelsea Roffey was an inspiring speaker and the conversation generated was fantastic.”
"The collection starts with a bang – an open letter by AFL goal umpire Chelsea Roffey to the voice of doubt in her head which, not surprisingly, is male.
If you have ever watched Roffey behind the goals, poised and precise, and wondered what sort of person she is, here's the answer.
She's smart and sassy and ultra-determined, and when she writes the words ring in your ear."Martin Flanagan, The Age
“I just wanted to say a big thank you for participating in the panel discussion at last week’s City Hawks Luncheon.
We have received fantastic feedback from guests!
I hope you enjoyed yourself, and we look forward to working with you again in the future.”Hawthorn Football Club
We really enjoyed having you speak at both functions and have received some great feedback from those involved…
Thanks so much again Chelsea for all the thought, time and energy you put into your presentations."Office for Recreation and Sport, South Australia