Chris’s Story

Chris Gordon is a name that might ring a bell – his remarkable journey is one we’ve previously shared with you. It’s the story of a Challenge member and friend whose unwavering spirit and determination propelled him to incredible success, overcoming numerous obstacles along the way. If you need a quick refresher, let us take you through it.

Chris, now 33, was born with a severe blood disorder known as Haemophilia. In his childhood, Chris’s heart belonged to AFL football, and he harboured dreams of donning an AFL guernsey and playing the sport he loved so dearly.

However, Chris’s health had other plans, forcing him to hang up his footy dreams at the tender age of 12, a devastating blow given his exceptional talent on the field.

But Chris refused to surrender to adversity and persevered in his passion for footy. While he accepted that becoming a professional footballer was a dream he could never fulfill, he refused to abandon his aspirations within the AFL industry.

Instead, Chris set his sights on a career as an AFL umpire, a role demanding peak physical condition and, for someone like Chris, heroic determination and self-belief. Chris was resolute in his determination to achieve this new goal, putting in the relentless effort to position himself for success.

In 2006, Chris applied for the Christopher Wise Scholarship from Challenge, hoping to use the financial support to boost his umpiring skills. His application was successful, and he invested the funds in a pair of top-tier training shoes. That same year, he was selected to umpire the TAC Cup Under-18’s Grand Final, a significant step towards his dream.

Seventeen years later, Chris has emerged as one of the AFL’s most respected umpires, a testament to his dedication, persistence, and resilience. He’s had a celebrated career, highlighted by officiating in the 2011, 2015, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022, and 2023 AFL Grand Finals. His skills have earned him prestigious awards, including the Bill Sutton Medallion, an All-Australian blazer, and the Murray Williams Shield. These accolades represent remarkable personal achievements and stand as proof of his ability to overcome the limitations imposed by his illness.

As the 2023 AFL season came to a close, Chris announced his retirement from AFL umpiring. We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Chris for his illustrious and decorated career as a boundary umpire. His contributions to the sport will undoubtedly leave an enduring mark.

During our previous conversations with Chris, he shared a message for fellow Challenge members grappling with similar challenges he once faced: “Never give up on a passion. There is always a way you can fulfill that dream. It might be a different fork in the road but work to your strengths rather than your weaknesses.”

Chris, we salute you once more and wish you all the best in the next chapter of your life. You are a true superstar, both on and off the field.