While many turn to sport as an outlet to escape day-to-day life, Chris Knights does the opposite. When things aren’t going right on the footy field – as has been the case in the last couple of years – he turns to the business world.
The Richmond half-forward’s corporate career has taken off in the last few years, with his SEO and web design company ZibMedia continuing to build an expanding portfolio of clients. Knights says it’s important to have something to take his mind off footy during down times.
“your identity is not just who are as a sportsperson” – Chris Knights
“For me, it’s a really good outlet from football and one that’s kept me motivated through some pretty tough times in my sporting career,” Knights says.
“When things aren’t going so well on the footy field, sometimes it’s not a good place. But if you have an outlet, whether that’s studying or work experience, it can be a big help.”
“That’s what the AFL Players’ Association is trying to push because, as athletes, we have a limited lifespan. It’s good to have that level of balance in your life so your identity is not just who are as a sportsperson. I’ve always been keen to do things outside of football and for me business is quite important.”
With his off-field career booming, Knights hopes to get things rolling once more on the park, following two injury-ravaged seasons in the yellow and black. 2015 has started well for the raking left-footer; he’s been able to partake in his first pre-season since returning to Melbourne at the end of 2012.
While pre-seasons are always challenging, Knights is enjoying the underlying benefits of being fit and healthy, and able to join his teammates.
“Because of my body and having a fair bit of surgery, I haven’t been able to participate in the pre-season with the group and have been in rehab a lot of summers before this,” he says.
“Statistics show you need a good pre-season to have a good year and I just haven’t been able to put together a good one for a while now.
“But this one has been great. The body is good after missing quite a bit of footy, but in saying that it’s been really challenging at the same time.”
With only five games in his two years for the Tigers, the footy gods haven’t been kind to the 28-year-old. A Patella tendon tear in Round 7 ruined his 2013 campaign before a piece of floating bone and a right quad strain throughout the year stopped him from playing a single game in 2014.
Amongst the adversity and uncertainty of the last two seasons, Knights says the club made him feel included even though he spent most of his days in rehab.
“Rehab can be a lonely place but we’ve got great staff, such as Luke Meehan and the boys in rehab that put together a fantastic program.
“I was part of the team but I was just sitting there trying to support the boys and assist as much as I could on the sidelines. I suppose I was facing my own football demons with being injured and not knowing what the future had in store but the club do a great job in creating unity between guys not playing in the 22 and the guys playing every week.
“I think that’s one of the strengths of the footy club – they’ve created a really caring and aware culture to make sure you’re not forgotten about and not excluded.”
Nice of the boys to welcome Chris Knights back into light training, in their own special way pic.twitter.com/hhFoT9nwyJ
— Richmond FC (@Richmond_FC) August 20, 2013
It’s been five years since the Vermont Football Club product’s best season in 2009. That year, Knights played a pivotal role in Adelaide’s rise to the semi-finals, playing close to goal and impacting the scoreboard with a career-high 43 majors in his 20 appearances.
And with the upcoming season his 11th at the elite level, Knights could be forgiven for thinking his best is behind him. But he keeps his goals on a short-term timeframe and isn’t looking to retirement just yet.
“My perception of AFL has changed a lot due to the tough times” – Chris Knights
“I’m not short-sighted but I don’t look too far ahead anymore because anything can change. One day I’m playing for Richmond and loving footy and the next I’ve had a serious knee injury.
“My perception of AFL has changed a lot due to the tough times so I appreciate being able to play footy and being with the boys and doing my best.
“The question is, can I be an asset to this football club? Contribution doesn’t even have to mean I’m in the senior side; I can be playing really good VFL football and putting pressure on for selection and making everyone else better.”
Though Knights’ off-field ventures are progressing well, he insists his business career – much like his football career – has had its challenges. Asked of his secret to his success, Knights gives a one-word answer – an answer that can be applied to all walks of life.
“Persistence,” he says.
“You need persistence, because it’s very tough. You see all the motivational quotes out there like ‘success is failure repeated’ and they’re so true. It’s like a footy career – you get kicked in the guts so many times but you eventually get better and learn from your mistakes, so if you’re willing to persist and work hard then hopefully you can achieve what you want to down the track.”
Head to zibmedia.com.au to find out more about Chris’s business