PE coordinator Paul Mobberley has been involved in sport in schools for almost 25 years at secondary, middle and primary level, first in the north east and latterly in the Midlands.
Although not a PE specialist, he devotes hours of extra-curriculum time coaching youngsters in several sports and especially football, most recently at Hazel Slade Primary School in Staffordshire.
What school (s) did you go to?
I went to Hob Hill Primary then to Hagley Park High School, both in Rugeley, Staffordshire.
What’s your earliest sporting memory?
As a child I wasn’t hugely sporty although I enjoyed PE lessons and sport with my friends. The only time I can remember representing my primary was at rounders but I can’t remember any details. I don’t think there were as many organised competitions then and there was definitely a culture of selecting the best when it came to football teams etc (which I don’t entirely disagree with).
Who were your sporting heroes growing up?
As a child I don’t recall anyone standing out so the first real hero to me would be Eric Cantona. Without a doubt the most talented player I’ve seen in the flesh, I just loved his confidence and the air of authority that seemed to surround him.
What are your best and worst sporting memories of school?
In five years at high school, I can only recall representing the school twice, once at swimming and once at badminton. There may have been more but I don’t think so so perhaps this is a best and worst memory combined.
Can you recall a memorable sporting teacher?
When I was at high school, I remember a new teacher starting called Mr Redpath. I presume he was an NQT but 33 years on I still see him as he works as a primary liaison PE teacher for the same school and comes into primary schools and organises festivals etc. He’s still as competitive and enthusiastic as he always was and I do enjoy reminding him he used to teach me.
What sports do you play these days?
On a personal level very little. Swimming occasionally but my participation is when I’m coaching or teaching. As long as health and safety permits, I will join in anything and love doing so regardless of whether it’s gymnastics, football, basketball or athletics. Anyone above year 5 can usually outperform me but I try hard.
In what other ways do you stay healthy?
I don’t do anything to excess good or bad. I enjoy walking and swimming, eat relatively healthily and spend as much time as possible active.
What is your favourite sporting memory?
In 2008 I won an award for the best school for football development in the whole of England which I received on the pitch at Wembley from Sir Trevor Brooking. Then in 2014/15, my year 5 and 6 football team at Chase View Primary reached the national finals of the Danone Nations Cup. They were a brilliant group of lads and it was an incredible experience.
What’s been your most embarrassing sporting moment?
During a school fixture one of my players received a head injury. I needed to phone an ambulance and, not being experienced in this, when the operator asked me where the boy was I said ‘lying on the ground next to me’ as opposed to giving the location the ambulance was required at. This was overheard by numerous people and it took a long time to live down.
What’s your biggest sporting bugbear?
People in children and youth sport, both in and out of school, who take it either too seriously or not quite seriously enough. On one extreme you get managers of Sunday morning U10 teams who think they’re Gareth Southgate then on the other hand you get children who can’t miss half an hour of lessons at the end of the day to attend a fixture because it might affect their SATs results or form teachers who know one or more of their class represented the school but don’t take the time to celebrate achievements or even ask how they got on.
When was the last time you cried at a sporting event?
Probably not outwardly (although no-one would have noticed because of the torrential rain) but in the final match with my last year 7 football team. They were a fabulous group of boys who I’d loved every minute of working with.
Which three sports people would you like to have around for dinner and why?
Mo Farrah, who is obviously very talented and dedicated. I have amazing memories of 2012. He overcame lots to get where he is but is also a thoroughly nice person. Lionel Messi who is just is the best at what he does and seems to do it with such ease year on year and Sir Alex Ferguson, not just because I’m a Man Utd fan either but he is a leader in every way.
MY SPORTING LIFE