South Melbourne FC would like to congratulate and farewell defender Chelsea Blissett, who has secured a full scholarship at the Future Matildas program in Sydney.
Chelsea started playing football at the age of seven in Albury Wodonga where she grew up. She played in the local leagues against boys and had the opportunity to represent the Country NSW team at the National Football Championships on multiple occasions. To progress her football career she made the move to Sydney for an eighteen month period playing with Blacktown Spartans and Marconi Stallions.
In mid-2017 South’s then Under 18s coach Daniel Foden reached out to Chelsea to see if coming to Melbourne and playing at South was something she was interested in. With her family and home town of Albury being closer to Melbourne than Sydney, Blissett reflects back on it being the perfect opportunity and one of the best decisions she’s ever made.
Chelsea’s move to Melbourne was one of those fairytale scenarios and one she considered a big gamble as well. She relocated to Melbourne without a lot of plans in place, she had a football club at South Melbourne but no school and not much else. Blissett was thrown straight into the action at the club, lining up for the Under 18s team on Lakeside Stadium for her first time wearing the royal blue assisting in a 3-2 win over Calder United. A week later, she returned to Lakeside playing in the Under 18s before backing it up immediately after to come off the bench in the 81st minute to make her Senior debut.
Blissett finished off Year 11 living in Point Cook and with the full support of the club she obtained a scholarship to Firbank Grammar for the final year of her schooling. That year in 2018 would be a whirlwind adventure as she was signed to the Senior squad and would play a full season in the top tier of Victorian football. The training and match exposure throughout the year would see her alongside current and former Matildas including Lisa De Vanna and Ella Mastrantonio and experienced W-League players such as Tiffany Eliadis and Alex Gummer.
The tenacity and determination was on show by Blissett and the squad went on an undefeated run of seventeen matches to claw their way back to the top of the League table and secure the Premiership with a win in the last round of the season. Whilst a Grand Final loss at AAMI Park was a bitter pill to swallow, it wouldn’t be long before Blissett was back on the turf at the big stage. Her performances throughout the year had caught the eyes of Melbourne City and her efforts rewarded with a contract for their 2018-2019 season. She made six appearances for City during the season, four of them starting, including her debut in Round 1 against Canberra United.
Blissett was a regular feature at SMFC during the off-season, supporting the young girls throughout their spring training program. She regularly attended and participated in training seasons and handed out jerseys at presentation night to welcome newcomers to the club. By February she was back in training at Albert Park ready for Round 1 against Southern United, where she scored her first goal of the 2019 campaign in a solid win for the team.
Mixed results would be recorded in the first few rounds of this season. Blissett missed the match against the Senior NTC as she had been flown to Sydney to meet with the technical and coaching staff at Football Federation Australia and talk about the Young Matildas, the opportunities offered as a part of that team and their upcoming journey to qualify for the 2019 AFC U-19 Women’s Championship in Thailand.
A footballer’s journey is never static so the time has come for Blissett to pack the bags and make the move yet again, this time however it’s back to somewhat familiar surroundings in Sydney. Chelsea has reached another height in her young career, having been offered a full scholarship as part of the Young Matildas program. Living in Sydney, the program will represent a full-time professional football environment training twice a day.
Wednesday night’s 1-1 draw against Alamein FC therefore was an emotional occasion and represented the last time Blissett would represent SMFC for now. Today (Saturday) she is flying back to Sydney for a Young Matildas training session and an overnight stay before returning to Melbourne to pack up for good. A road trip home to Albury to see family and then to round out the week it’s a drive on to Sydney to embark on the latest episode in the footballing career of Chelsea Blissett.
The club is proud to have played a role in helping develop, guide and mentor Chelsea both on and off the field. We wish her the best for the next stage in her footballing life and we know we will see her back at Lakeside in some capacity in the future as she will always be a part of the SMFC family.