From football pitch to classroom

Selston High School PE teacher Jon D'Laryea who used to play for MTFC.
Selston High School PE teacher Jon D'Laryea who used to play for MTFC.

If asked to describe a footballer, words such as rich, famous and stupid may be some that spring to mind.

But stereotypes never tell the full story and former Mansfield Town captain Jon D’Laryea is doing his bit to disprove this commonly-held view.

Jon D'Laryea playing for Mansfield Town

Jon D'Laryea playing for Mansfield Town

Jon (28) left the world of full-time professional football a few years ago to pursue a career in teaching, and is now working as a PE teacher at Selston High School while still playing the sport at a semi-pro level in the Conference North for North Ferriby United, near Hull.

Initially, making the switch came as a bit of a culture shock to the Manchester-born midfielder.

“At Mansfield Town I would wake up at nine o’clock, get to training for 10, probably be home by one o’clock then would have the day to myself,” he told Chad.

“Now I get up at 6.30 and some days I am not getting home until five. It was a culture shock but I have adapted well.”

Jon and his twin brother Nathan, also now a teacher, both started playing football at a young age and were signed by Manchester City aged eight.

They progressed through the youth ranks and when he was 19, Jon was picked to play for the first team, but made just one appearance before a desire to play regular football took him to the Stags.

“It was a difficult decision as I did enjoy it at Manchester City, but I also enjoyed playing every single week for Mansfield and I decided to go for it,” he said.

Jon was at Field Mill for four years and was captain for one season. He played in League Two and in the Conference, and has fond memories of his time there.

“It’s still my most enjoyable time in my football career, especially when I got to captain the side,” he said, adding that he always looks out for the team’s results.

It was in 2010 after he left the Stags that Jon, aged just 25, said he began to think seriously about life after football. He didn’t want to play full-time anymore and began going into schools on a voluntary basis to learn more about the school environment.

He was already doing a distance-learning degree in Sports Science at Manchester Metropolitan University and then applied for a position as a cover supervisor, or supply teacher.

“I really, really enjoyed it, even when I was not in the PE department,” he said.

“It just confirmed to me that I did want to go into teaching.”

Selston High School was one of the schools he had worked at and when he was offered the chance to work as a full-time PE teacher and do his teacher training on the job, Jon jumped at the chance.

“I am really grateful for the opportunity that they have given me,” he said.

Any worries that Jon had about what students, staff and parents might think about a former footballer becoming a teacher were soon allayed, and he says that his experience with the sport actually helps him to connect with students who can be disruptive in the classroom but are strong on a sporting level.

“The kids wind me up about football,” he said.

“They follow the team I play for now and give me stick on a Monday morning if we lose!”

Jon is passionate about his job - he enjoys the feeling of camaraderie with other teachers, is keen to show people the value of taking part in physical activity and enjoys helping students progress.

“I would say I am probably happier now than when I was playing full-time football,” he said.

“Semi-pro is enough to satisfy my appetite for football.

“I don’t need to play everyday and look forward to coming into school.”

Jon is now passing on his experience of going into teaching to footballer friends, and is keen to show people that not all footballers do live up to the stereotype.

“There are a lot of footballers who do stick to the stereotype of being not so clever, but there are a lot who really are switched on and think about their careers and what they are going to do after football,” he said.

“It’s really important that footballers consider what they are going to do in the future and I have recommended that they volunteer in schools because they will enjoy it!”