The Joy of PE

nev-wilshireI was born in 1959, the middle child of three lively boys, in the small village of Pennard, just 7 miles from Swansea town centre. My Father was a student when I was born so we didn’t have much, but we were, and have always been, a close family. I’m now a proud father of two wonderful daughters and two fine sons and have always been grateful for the joys of family.

I was just two when the family moved to an estate in Killay. It was a new estate with lots of young families just like ours. It was a happy childhood; I can still remember countless hours spent riding my bike, ball games in the streets and popping in and out of friends’ houses.  I made friends in Killay that would be with me throughout my time at Dunvant Junior School and Olchfa Comprehensive.

I enjoyed my time in school but as my teachers correctly pointed out, I preferred to entertain my classmates rather than settle down and work! My favourite subject was PE and it was in sport that I excelled. I captained my junior school and represented Swansea schools at football, but also played in the basketball, cross country and tennis teams while at Olchfa; in fact I’d play pretty much any sport other than egg chasing.

OlchfaLooking back on my school days there are two teachers that really stood out; Mr Williams and Mr Morgan were both inspirational figures. It wasn’t just because they ran the cricket and football teams, but because they inspired me academically. Both were good men who conveyed the importance of learning; although I may not have been the most academic of pupils, what I learnt at school was the importance of morals and doing things the right way.

There were two other teachers that I still remember well after all these years. Mr Rowden who ran the first XI football team at Olchfa. An inspirational figure who would come in early to encourage us to try basketball and cross country running. Always full of encouragement, he would tell me I had what it took to join the ranks of professional footballers. Mr Jenkins was a maths teacher who had the ‘pleasure’ of teaching me in the fourth year. I had been relegated to set 5 after struggling to get 30% in my tests. He commanded respect and taught me how to listen, he would also throw things at you if you were yawning (yes, that’s where I got it from!). My marks were soon up to 70% so Mr Jenkins was certainly doing something right.

When I used to think of ‘what I wanted to do when I grew up’, I’d often think of joining the army and serving my country. But as I got older the idea of being a PE teacher and wearing a tracksuit to work appealed. Alas, my dreams of being a teacher were compromised by the pleasures of 6th form and the multitude of 18th birthday parties which got in the way of my studies. So with somewhat disappointing (according to my Dad!) A-level grades in my pocket I turned my attention to the world of work.