But amidst her accomplishments on the track and field, there was a flame burning within her heart that refused to be extinguished - her unwavering love of football.
Daniels's devotion to the beautiful game and her natural talents catapulted her into the spotlight as one of South Africa's most promising young footballers. She fittingly represented the country in international tournaments for junior divisions, showcasing her skills on the global stage.
In a thrilling twist of fate this week, Daniels, a first-year BEd student at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), was nominated among the three players for the Player of the Tournament Award in the Varsity Football Women competition. The other two are Lusanda Mavundla of the University of Johannesburg and Tshogofatso Motlogelwa of Tshwane University of Technology.
VOTE HERE FOR CHELSEA DANIELS
Throughout this year's Varsity Football tournament, Daniels dazzled with her performances. Her footwork spoke volumes, netting three crucial goals and even earning the Player of the Match award in a showdown against Durban University of Technology (DUT).
Yet, when the nomination news broke, Daniels was taken aback. Humble and appreciative, she expressed, "Honestly, it feels unreal. I really don't know how it came to this, but I am so proud of myself and thankful to my teammates and coaches because it would not have been possible without them."
The tournament had its share of ups and downs for Daniels' UWC side. A bumpy start against UJ was followed by a spectacular resurgence, crushing both DUT and TUT with scores of 4-1 and 5-1, respectively.
She attributed their turnaround to the unity fostered by their coaches and the camaraderie among teammates. "We lost against UJ in our first group match, but it was clear that we learnt from our mistakes (in the following games) and took it one game at a time. Personally, what helped me throughout the tournament were my teammates who constantly motivated me on the field, because at times, it became hard for me to block out the noise. I cannot express how grateful I am for their guidance."
On Saturday, UWC will play the final of Varsity Football Women against UJ – a team that dethroned them in the final last year from the top spot and trophy they won in 2021. With a fiery determination, Daniels believes they can reverse their fate against UJ, and her mantra is simple - play till the final whistle; never let go of momentum.
Daniel's journey into the world of football began at the tender age of eight. Growing up in Blackheath, she was inspired by her older brother's passion for soccer. From Helderkruin Primary School to Malibu High School, her dedication grew. Joining UWC at just 13 years old, she briefly ventured elsewhere in 2020-21 before realising that her heart belonged to UWC, a place where her football dreams could flourish.
While the football field celebrated Daniels' accomplishments, the classroom posed its own challenges. Balancing academic life and sports has proved to be a demanding task - a puzzle she is determined to solve over time.
Unsurprisingly, Daniels's role model is the legendary Lionel Messi. However, her dreams are grounded in making a difference as a qualified teacher. She envisions being a shining example for the next generation, potentially altering their destinies. And beyond her academic aspirations, she aims to inspire children to embrace sports, regardless of the game.
The final between UWC and UJ is at 11am tomorrow, and Daniels stands ready to further etch her name into the annals of football history, all while nurturing dreams of empowerment and transformation for generations to come.
Members of the University community are encouraged to vote for her by clicking the link below:
Images by C & C Kotze/Varsity Sports