Dave Lindo, Gleaner Writer
MANDEVILLE, Manchester:PHYSICAL EDUCATION teacher Orvel Francis, more popularly known as Franco, has touched the lives of many of the bright sports talents in Manchester through his dedication in helping to guide them towards their dreams and aspirations.
Francis, who hails from Mandeville, Manchester, attended Mandeville All-Age School, the place where it all began for him as a sportsman.
"I was encouraged by my mother Carol Pusey to get involved in sports at a very early age," Francis said. "It was also the thing for young boys to do in those days, to play all the sports."
At all-age school, he became involved in track and field and football. He represented his school at the parish level at the Blue Cross Primary and All-Age track and field meet where he excelled.
After leaving Mandeville All-Age School, Francis first attended Spalding Secondary School and shortly after got a scholarship to attend Holmwood Technical High School.
At Holmwood, Francis blossomed as an athlete where he ran the quarter mile as well as long jump. "I was influenced by Uter Blade, a big sportsman in Manchester at the time," Francis disclosed. " In my years at Holmwood, I participated at Boys' Champs and other track meets and also played in the daCosta Cup competition."
Through the encouragement of a schoolmate at Holmwood, Francis enrolled at G.C. Foster School of Physical Education where he pursued a course in physical education, a move he said that he does not regret.
"It was one of the best moves in my life, because I have gotten the chance to do what I enjoy doing the most, and that is teaching sports to children," he explained.
After leaving college, Francis first worked at Sts Peter and Paul before moving on to his present job at Mandeville Primary and Junior High where he is now going into his 20th year.
chance to influence
Francis said he feels blessed having his job as a physical education teacher.
"It gives me the chance to shape the lives of youngsters to guide them on their path in becoming star sportsmen and sportswomen in the various sporting discipline. That for me is the most gratifying feeling in my career as a coach and PE (physical education) teacher."
He pointed out the importance of physical education in schools from the primary level. "If it wasn't for PE in schools, you might not have known about the great Usain Bolt and other top Jamaican sporting stars," Francis said. "Not everyone is going to be academically inclined, so for many, sports is an avenue to making something of themselves in life and also to take care of their families."
He added: "So as PE teachers, we have to provide that platform for them to realise their dreams of being world beaters, of making themselves, their families and their country proud."