AFL umpire and journalist with a passion for gender equality
Born and raised in Australia, Chelsea Roffey has become a prominent leader in promoting gender equality within the AFL.
With a keen interest in goal umpiring, Chelsea first started her career in umpiring at the age of 17. Navigating an industry filled with middle-aged men in overcoats, she did not hesitate to jumping head-first into waving the flags for gender equality. By playing to her strengths, Chelsea thrived by demonstrating how the nature of diverse thinking can help to drive both individual and collective performance.
It wasn’t long before Chelsea became the first woman to umpire an AFL Grand Final in 2012. Since then, Chelsea has umpired over 270 AFL games, 16 finals and sat the bench as the emergency umpire at five AFL Grand Finals. Still, the highlight of her career was being the first umpire in history to be cheered by the crowd ahead of Sydney and Hawthorn’s iconic match.
Other highlights include being enveloped by the post-anthem roar on Anzac Day, goosebumps at Adelaide Oval during the Port Adelaide cheer squad’s emotional rendition of INXS’s ‘Never Tear Us Apart’ and having her face connect with the end of a trademark Drew Petrie spoil in Tasmania.
“I used to joke that maintaining focus amid a sea of short shorts, glistening biceps and the heady aroma of testosterone, sweat and liniment was the toughest part of the job. Thankfully, the conversation has shifted up a gear as people genuinely want to know, why is it that more females aren't goal umpires ... or CEOs?”
Outside of AFL umpiring, Chelsea studied a Bachelor of Music at the Queensland Conservatorium with an academic scholarship. She has also combined her love of communication and AFL by studying journalism.
She continues to share her thoughts on culture, equality and performance in a range of forums. She has been an invited guest of the APEC Women's Leadership Forum in Beijing, as well as in the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York. Chelsea has also been involved with the Winston Churchill Fellowship, which has taken her around the world to countries like the US, Canada, UK, Sweden and India.