Future Matildas hopeful Chelsea Blissett has chosen to see her recovery from an ACL injury as a way to progress her career, rather than hold it back.
The devastating injury, which happened last December on the eve of the 2020/21 W-League season, threatened to derail the immediate future of a player who has been a major part of the Young Matildas setup.
“This isn't a set back, but rather a learning curve,” said the 21-year-old, who currently resides in Brisbane. “It is all part of being a footballer and I will come back stronger from the experience.”
The Melbourne City championship-winning defender, who was preparing for a big W-League season, has been happy with her progress since the injury and is confident of a return later this year.
“Things are going really well, there have been no major issues since surgery. We have been happy with how things are going, and I am feeling really good.”
Blissett chose to do her rehab in Brisbane to be closer to her boyfriend, who plays for Lions FC in Queensland, the club she played for in the 2020 NPLW season.
Despite being away, she has been full of praise for how Melbourne City have looked after her since the injury, despite her missing the entire 2020/21 W-League season, where a disappointing City missed the finals.
“Melbourne City have been very supportive. They looked after me initially and despite me choosing to do my rehab in Brisbane, they still check up on me which is a great comfort.
“A few ex team-mates like Steph Catley, Kyah Simon, Ivy Luik and Elise Kellond-Knight have been in touch to see how I am going. There has been a lot of love and support.”
Blissett has also drawn a lot of comfort from talking to fellow victims of the dreaded ACL.
“Mindy Barbieri, Sofia Sakalis and Ally Watt, they have all had knee injuries and have been really supportive.
“I talk to Ally a fair bit and we work through it together.”
When talking through the process of what she has gone through, Blissett admits she had to be patient, but credits her family and football network in Brisbane for supporting her.
“The first little part of it was slow and mundane and mentally draining. That bit is hard. However, as you see your progress and as you build, it helps your mental head space.
“The fact I have a good supportive network helps a lot. My mum and dad are so supportive. I also have a good network in Brisbane.
“Lions FC have been great. They have allowed me to use their gym and I still talk to the club and coaches.
“They have all been there since the day I did it.”
Her road to recovery has involved a lot of physical activity, but she has tackled it with the same determination that saw her leave her hometown of Albury as a youngster, before moving to Melbourne to play for South Melbourne (NPLW) and Melbourne City, and then Sydney as part of the Future Matildas program.
“When I came out of surgery, the first six weeks was physio. I was working on my (injured) right leg to get it straight.
“I was also initially doing hip mobility as not being able to walk can tighten your hips. We also did a lot of upper body work, making sure I didn’t lose as much muscle as possible.
“After crutches, I was learning how to walk. Building into single leg before going double leg.
“I had no muscle left in my right leg. After a couple of weeks I was able to do mini hops, mini jumps, compound lifts and squats.
“Now im working on single leg bounding. Just trying to get as strong as possible.
“I am running at the moment and in the next stage, I will be able to introduce change of direction into my program.”
Although it is a gruelling schedule, the reward at the end is far too juicy to give up. Blissett admits the 2023 World Cup is still something she is striving for.
“I am looking at going back to introduction training in August this year. I will be able to play again in January 2022.
“The World Cup on home soil is still in the back of my mind. It is a few years away and I will definitely be back then.”