Connection and trust are the fundamental elements of Adelaide’s backline, according to its newest member and breakout candidate Chelsea Biddell.
Warmly coined ‘Team D’, the Crows’ defensive lineup has played a critical role in the side’s strong start to the AFLW season.
Holding opposing sides to a league-best average of 18.4 points per game, the backline is propelling the club’s charge towards finals and former forward Biddell is a key component to this defensive success.
The 23-year-old’s position switch came about after a strong preseason and her desire to fit into the team, even if that meant not playing in her customary position.
“I had a conversation with Doc (coach Matthew Clarke) in the preseason, and said I’ve been working hard and I’m training alright. I’ve previously been a forward, so he thought maybe we’d change it up and try the backline,” Biddell said.
“I thought I’d give it a crack and see how it went … now, I’m learning how to read the play and trust my ability … being back there is really good. Our ‘Team D’ is really connected, and we have each other’s backs so it’s good to play back there.”
Transitioning from one end of the field to another requires a change of mindset.
But Biddell, who finished second in the SANFLW goal kicking in the 2019 season, also utilises her previous experience as a forward to help give her an edge in the backline.
“Initially getting your head around [changing position] is difficult … [forward experience] helps a little bit; just that ability to understand where the forward is going to run and their leading patterns was the most challenging aspect,” Biddell said.
“[Being a forward] definitely contributes to understanding the new position a little bit better. But I think a huge part of the backline is just being able to read the play yourself and know where the ball is going to go.”
Despite the abundance of individual talent inherent in the Crows’ back six, the key to ‘Team D’s’ success is the bond they share, according to the young Crow.
“We really value our connection and that trust with each other so that definitely helps in terms of success and it shows on the field how close we are to each other and how much we mean to each other,” she said.
When it comes to nullifying the impact of opposing forwards, the group draws on this connectedness to approach the challenge together.
“We don’t really have exact matchups; we work as a group. Obviously, we understand that certain forwards are really dangerous, and we have to look how we can stop them if we need to,” Biddell said.
Growing up on the Yorke Peninsula, the breakout defender always harboured a passion to play Aussie Rules, but spent her younger years devoted to netball and basketball.
“Sport was a huge part of our lives growing up, I have three sisters and we all played basketball for the state team growing up. My parents directed me more towards netball, but when I moved to Adelaide to start university, I thought I’d give footy a crack,” Biddell said.
Playing alongside some of the AFLW’s best players such as Erin Phillips and Chelsea Randall, the late-to-footy athlete credits her accelerated football development to the professional culture at the Adelaide Football Club.
“The work ethic and the environment [at Adelaide] has taught me so much about what it takes to play professionally,” she said.
Outside of footy, Biddell applies the same work ethic and dedication to studying teaching at university, a field which she intends to enter after her playing career.
Making the most of the educational resources provided by the AFLPA, Biddell applied for an education and training grant to help her through her degree.
“[The AFLPA] help you fill it out and stuff which makes it a lot easier, but it’s been a real help obviously paying off the HECS debt is a bit daunting so having that is really helpful,” she said.
Biddell says that juggling her various commitments can be challenging, but insists that it can be accomplished with good time management and outside support.