Chad Gibson has been playing football for as long as he can remember.
As Queensland Roar captain in the inaugural season of the Hyundai A-League he’s one of the pioneers of the game but now, aged 39, Chad’s career has gone to the next level.
“It’s been the best season I’ve had in my football life. To stand out there and play with your dad on a Saturday afternoon, not many people get that opportunity”, Chad Gibson said.
Keith Gibson is doing what most 69 year olds could only dream about. He’s a midfielder and playmaker for Belmore Eagles FC over 35s, not only playing with his son but earning the respect of teammates and opponents.
“I’ve enjoyed every moment. It’s beautiful”, Keith said.
“He gets out there and runs the show basically. It’s pretty amazing. Everyone just loves him”, Chad added.
None of those Keith plays with now is old enough to know the back story of the bloke they all call Gibbo.
He got out of his country of birth in 1969 because it was too dangerous to stay in the then apartheid South Africa.
Keith’s relationship with his mixed race girlfriend Bernadette was illegal so he migrated to Australia where he wasted no time marrying Bernie and playing professional football for APIA Leichhardt Tigers.
“I was only there for about six weeks and my dad took ill and I went back home and he passed on and I had to stay there for a while. By the time we got back the season was over”, Keith said.
Gibbo then played with East Fremantle in WA before settling in Sydney and raising sons John, a former Olyroo now coach of the Perth Glory Youth Team, and Chad.
As Belmore Eagles home ground Rudd Park is just over the Gibson household’s back fence football was always going to be a big part of their lives.
“Dad was playing the first grade team for them and John was playing there and as a baby I’d be there on a Saturday”, Chad said. An anecdote completed by his Dad; “Bernie would go to work, I’d take him to the park. I’d run off the pitch put a bottle in his mouth and run back on”.
With football in his blood, Chad Gibson has played continuously since he was three with a variety of clubs including Sydney United 58 FC, Marconi Stallions, Bankstown City and Blacktown City as well as his two year stint at the Roar.
In 2015 Chad returned home where he achieved a lifelong ambition by setting up his dad to score the goal that put Belmore Eagles over 35s into the Grand Final.
“It happened in a kind of slomo. I just flicked it on into that area and I knew where he’d be. He got it on the outside of his foot and flicked it in. I had a few tears on the pitch and so did the boys. It was like a movie, everyone knew how special it was,” Chad explained.
Chad missed the championship decider because football has taken him to Paris where he’s shooting and editing the Underground Football Club Final, the culmination of a competition with a difference where games are played at locations revealed at the last minute such as warehouses and rooftops.
“It’s part of my creative side outside of football, my photography and videography. I wanted to merge these worlds together and really showcase football in a different light on Local FC”, Chad said.
Chad Gibson’s innovative football website Local FC is just one way he’s giving back to the game as he’s run career mentoring programs in association with Football Federation Australia, produced player features for Fox Sports and is now working closely with the Professional Footballers’ Association.
“I’m so passionate about football and what I’ve started at Local FC, it’s because of Belmore, because of my parents. If it wasn’t for football my brother and I wouldn’t be around, they wouldn’t have been allowed to come from South Africa. Football has genuinely given us life,” Chad insisted.
“I’m proud of what Chad and John have grown up to be. What they’ve achieved they’ve deserved”, Keith said.
It’s one thing for a father to stand back and admire his sons’ achievements but quite another to be right in there amongst it. The Gibsons have an unbreakable bond strengthened by football, summed up by Chad.
“It’s an honour and a privilege to not only be on the same pitch but to be his son”.
-By Mark Chester