Loving footy with a passion
Fri 22 Jun 2012
Meet Chris Gordon – a 22 year old guy who loves footy with a passion. Chris has been lucky enough to balance his dreams of playing football with the reality of having severe haemophilia by becoming an Australian Football League (AFL) umpire.
Chris spoke to HFA about his experience and here’s his story…
Chris watched his first AFL game with his mother at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on a Friday night…
I was 6 years old. I knew then that I loved the game – the lights, the size of the stadium and all the people.
I played AFL Auskick with my mates all through primary school. Auskick is an AFL program to introduce children to Australian Football. I learned general co-ordination and skills and played football games regularly.
But when I left primary school, I struck the same problem as many boys with haemophilia – in secondary school the size and weight of boys playing football increases dramatically, so the chance of injury increases also. The injuries from contact can be much more serious too. My haematologist advised me and my parents that I should stop playing AFL because it would be too dangerous.
I tried really hard to prove to my haematologist and my parents that it would be OK for me to continue to play, but they were not convinced. When my friends kept playing as they went into high school, I was not sure what to do next.
A friend’s father suggested I have a go at boundary umpiring. I still felt part of the game, even though I wasn’t playing football, and I trained and was on the grounds and in the rooms afterwards with my mates.
Chris threw his energy into improving his skills and performance…
Running, fitness and accuracy are crucial to umpiring – you can’t make any errors.
I went from umpiring local football, to Victorian Football League and finally AFL umpiring. The highlight for me was my selection to boundary umpire the 2011 AFL Grand Final – it was a great experience.
Training and haemophilia
Chris has had prophylaxis treatment since he was two years old and infused his own treatment since he was 10 or 12. He keeps in regular contact with the Haemophilia Centre…
At AFL we have a support team of fitness staff. The trainer puts together a training regime for each umpire and there are dedicated physios and nutritionists. Umpires have a training cycle just like the players – we prepare before the game and recover after the game and work on fitness and skills. Every day I run, go to gym and work on strength and conditioning. After every game I have ice baths to reduce muscle swelling.
Haemophilia hasn’t had much impact on my lifestyle. I think my high level of fitness has helped me to have greater resilience, strong muscles to support my joints and better health. The haemophilia physios used to prefer you to swim because they thought running was too hard on joints, but now they are more encouraging of weight bearing exercise.
What’s next for Chris?
I’m currently training to be a primary school teacher – my aim is to become a Physical Education teacher and manage school sporting events.
Haemophilia is not a barrier to most things in life. The main thing is to give most things a go.
Chris Gordon was interviewed by Trish Godden from HFA.
Photos supplied by AFL with permission.