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uk athletics' head of hr and welfare inspires the next generation

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RK


12 August 2019

Head of HR and Welfare at UK Athletics, Ralph Knibbs, visited his old school in Bristol recently to share his story with a view to inspiring the next generation of talented young sportspeople. 

He met with 12 Bristol Metropolitan Academy students who are aiming to make it to the top in their chosen sports, including basketball, football, rugby and athletics. During the visit, Knibbs emphasised to them the importance of pursuing education and academic qualifications alongside their sporting endeavours.

Knibbs, a former international rugby union player, who made 436 appearances for Bristol, scoring 123 tries, spoke to students about his experiences as one of the country’s best rugby centres, and his career development alongside it.

Starting his non playing career as a personnel officer at Bristol City Council, Knibbs moved to Rolls-Royce plc as a Human Resources Director before joining UK Athletics in 2011. During his playing career, he ensured he built up a repertoire of skills that have supported him in in other areas of his work.

In reviewing his time at the school, Knibbs showed students how some of their current peers could become lifelong friends illustrating this with a picture from his recent 100k charity bike ride challenge which Knibbs took on with Andrew Harper, a fellow pupil from his own school days. 

Knibbs was given a tour of the newly built school, built on the land of his own school, and shown trophies and photos going back to his time there in the late 1970s.

One of the students, Lakeisha Williams, said after the visit, “I really enjoyed the presentation given to the students in relation to his time at Whitfield/Bristol Met Academy as a student, and successful rugby career. I was impressed with the level of maturity and respect the students showed during the discussions.

“Ralph spoke on a level that was engaging for the students to understand and they easily identified the issues and challenges faced as a young Black man in your life. The presentation was varied and enjoyable.”

The 54-year-old has passed on his sporting abilities, drive and determination to his own children and he showed the students pictures of Alex, an upcoming 400m hurdler who recently represented Great Britain at senior and under 23 level, Harvey, a professional footballer and Danielle, who recently graduated with an MBA.   

As part of the talk he listed his own inspirations including a former school Teacher Dave Redmond and former colleague and UKA chief, Niels de Vos. He also outlined some of his proudest moments that included a commendation from the Africa National Congress in 1984, dinner with Muhammed Ali and being listed in the Sunday Times as one of the top ten rugby centres by Jeremy Guscott. 

He said: “The students were all fully attentive and asked very well thought out and probing questions. I predict a big future for this group be it in sport or their professional careers or both!”