Bill Carne recently met up with Amanda John and discovered that in her work as a 5x60 officer she is heavily involved in sport . . .

AMANDA John readily admits that she loves sport and so her role as a 5x60 officer at St Davids School is perfect for her because she has the chance to get others involved in sport and active leisure as an integral part of her remit.

“I work for Sport Pembrokeshire,” said Amanda, “and as well as my time spent at organising lunch-time and after-school sport in Ty Ddewi, which takes up 50% of my working week, I also work with younger children in PE at Wolfscastle and Roch CP Schools for the rest of my working week.”

It is very clear that Amanda is enthusiastic and she also has a great deal of experience in her role because before returning to her native county she was involved in coaching out in Texas and then Nebraska.

But she is a Porthgain girl and when she was younger she grew up playing sport in the village alongside Tom and Ben Jones. She played football at Croesgoch CP with Fraser Watson, Tom Jones, Steve and Geraint Morris, and was ‘Under 13 Player of the Year’ at Llanrhian Cricket Club, and also took part in tennis (coached by Rachel Thomas, who is now in the PE department at St Davids), plus surfing and kayaking around the bays near her home.

“I would like to have tried rugby as well,” admitted Amanda with a chuckle, “ but mum (Wendy) wouldn’t allow it!”

Amanda played cricket for Hook Ladies a few seasons back and her last game was in the final at Cresselly where the team were underdogs but needed 18 runs from the final two overs as she was with ace run gatherer Sam Rossiter at the crease. Amanda faced the last ball with Hook still needing two runs but there was a no-ball and the pair scampered a single so at least Amanda can say she hit the winning run in a Ladies’ cricket cup final.

But football has always been her first sporting love.

“I play for Newcastle Emlyn in the Welsh Premier League, which means lots of travelling for training and home matches,” she said, “plus journeys for away games to Cardiff, Wrexham, Llandudno Junction, Caerphilly, Newport and Swansea.

“I started out as a nipper at Solva with Ronnie Beynon, a lovely man, and then played at Goodwick United with Nev Williams as another good coach, in a good team that included players of the calibre of Tina Delaney, Lowri Jones, Rhiannon Jones and Isobel Bradbury.”

Amanda was soon installed in the Pembrokeshire team coached by Gerry Rigby and also played for the boy’s team, gradually forcing her way into the Welsh set-up in their School of Excellence. But there was so much travel that Amanda decided to take a rest and she studied Business at Pembrokeshire College – and when she won the Student of the Year award decided to spend the £1,000 wisely by completing her degree at UWIC.

She was soon back in football, playing midfield for the college first team – and delighted when she was chosen to represent Welsh Universities against their counterparts from England, Scotland and Ireland in Bath. The team played well to come third against very strong opposition – but such was the lack of investment then in Ladies’ Football that they weren’t even allowed to keep their shirts!

Amanda stayed in Cardiff for a while after gaining her degree and played in the Cardiff City Ladies squad and won silverware with their very strong second team before returning to Pembrokeshire where she played for Haverfordwest Ladies as they won the West Wales Cup.

Now she is a regular with Newcastle Emlyn Ladies alongside other Pembrokeshire players like Carrie Slack, Stacey John, Caroline Cooper and Bethan Roberts, looking forward to the challenges that the new season brings. It will again mean a lot of travel but the girls are at least able to share transport as they play against a lot of the best teams in South Wales.

Alongside her football, however, is her work as a 5x60 officer at St Davids, plus her teaching of PE at primary school level, which she still loves after five years of involvement. She is busy in sport all day and enjoys seeing youngsters previously not participating in anything now enjoying activities like badminton, surfing, coasteering and fitness work. They have also started to try sit-down badminton and deaf football (which means no talking!) so that the students can understand better what it is like to have a disability.

Amanda is full of praise for the support she has received at Sport Pembrokeshire from manager Ben Field and his development officers like Angela Miles, plus the likes of Alun Davies, Ronnie Beynon, RV Jones, Nev Williams and Rachel Thomas in her formative years.

“I was very lucky to be encouraged all the way by these smashing people,” said Amanda, “and all I do now is to try and emulate them in encouraging others.”

We at the Western Telegraph have seen Amanda working with her young charges and we can safely say that she certainly does that!