SIDELINED Adelaide co-skipper Chelsea Randall considered stepping back from the captaincy in 2020 in a bid to allow her teammates to develop their own leadership skills.
Randall tore her right ACL during the very first training session of pre-season in late November and underwent surgery just before Christmas.
With fellow co-captain Erin Phillips also in doubt for part of the season (recovering from her own torn ACL) the club confirmed a week ago the pair would continue to lead the team for a fourth consecutive season.
The Crows will confirm their on-field leaders (acting captains) in the coming weeks.
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"After doing my knee, you can't help but reflect. I did take a lot of time reflecting on what was going to be best for the group, and whether this was a sign for me to step away," Randall told womens.afl.
"Am I just a blocker for someone else to come through? Where do I stand? You question what your purpose and role is after a significant injury like that.
"Speaking with our head coach Matthew Clarke, him and Erin's belief in me as a leader and what I can bring to the group, they truly believe I was meant for this role this season.
"I'm really honoured and proud they've backed me in. I want to support the girls in that off-field way that hopefully inspires and empowers the next leaders coming through, without handing the entire reins over. We can support them and give them leadership roles on-field."
The 28-year-old backed Phillips to make a return at some point this season and said Chloe Scheer and Rhiannon Metcalfe were tracking well in their recoveries from knee reconstructions.
Randall's own rehab is also progressing after the untimely injury.
"It's probably not the greatest reaction, but you can't do anything but have a little giggle at the timing of it," she said.
"My first day back on the track, I was so excited, I was pumped to be back, and you couldn't wipe the smile off my face.
Within 45 minutes, doing one of my favourite drills and it was over within the click of a finger.
"Since the girls have been back (after the Christmas break), I haven't missed a session. Things are coming along nicely, the surgeon is happy with it, it can be a long haul and there's been a few girls who have experienced it, so I'm leaning on them.
"You take anything and everything on, their stories and experiences. What I have learned from Erin and the other girls is every knee operation is completely different. What you tend to do is constantly compare yourself to others and how you're recovering, but it's important to go at your own pace."
Randall said the backline – the high-flying general's usual domain – will be led well by Sarah Allan and Marijana Rajcic, and she will turn her attention to the midfield.
"My match-day role is in discussion with the coaching staff, but I'm looking to sink my teeth into an assistant coach job with Andrew McLeod. He's not a bad guy to learn off," she said with a laugh.
"We've got such a fantastic coaching staff, the likes of Narelle Smith, Peter Caven, Andrew McLeod and Warwick Raymond, and of course Matthew Clarke, they're incredible people. I'm really excited to put some of my level three coaching course into practice."
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The Crow is also leading the Chelsea Randall Academy at the AFL Max facility in Adelaide on January 22 for girls aged 6-13.
"It's a pretty unreal facility, we've got some climbing walls, trampolines, we've got an interactive wall and a green room as well, so you can experience what it's like to do a photo shoot at a club," she said.
"I'm really passionate about giving back to the grassroots level and just hoping we can get some girls down to come and try it out, but girls who have had some experience can come as well.
"When I first started footy at 11 in Perth, I had to play with the boys and I don't think we had school holiday clinics for any of us. We're now trying to create an opportunity for all young girls to be able to see football and having AFLW televised is obviously a key component of that.
"It's one of the fastest growing sports in Australia and we want to see more girls having fun in a safe and engaging environment, and hopefully we'll see that in the Chelsea Randall Academy."