SAM Bullas has faced many big challenges as team captain of the Swindon Wildcats and is now taking on his toughest task yet – teaching a class of Year 5s.

The 28-year-old started his first term at Mountford Manor Primary after work with the Wildcats in the Community initiative gave him a chance to follow in his parents’ footsteps.

He said: “My mum was my primary school teacher and my dad was my secondary school teacher but I never had the enthusiasm to teach until I started working with kids on a daily basis as community development officer for the Wildcats outreach scheme.

“It’s a new thing for the kids and for me but we are having a good time and a lot of fun in the classroom. I like to make all my classes interactive because when children are enjoying learning is when the real learning takes place.”

Sam works late on weekdays to ensure he still has the weekends free to join his Wildcats teammates in the rink and found that his years in ice hockey gave him plenty of transferable skills.

He added: “There’s a lot that crosses over and it’s put me in really good stead for a long teaching career.

“Being in team sport, you are used to using communication and feedback skills that are also important when teaching a class.

“It can be challenging at times to juggle everything but I I play well for the Wildcats and long coach trips to away games provide the perfect time to plan lessons.

“Now we’ve just got to start winning more games and keep that consistency up all year round, then I’ll be happy on both sides of it.

“One of the reasons I decided to teach primary school pupils was to do more than PE. Sport has been my entire life so I’ve really enjoyed teaching a range of subjects including science, geography and history.

“I never thought I was much good at art but, for a 10-year-old’s skill level, I’m a dab hand at it. I know the school well and feel lucky to get a job here, they’re doing things right.”

The Adver had the chance to watch one of Sam’s classes while he carried out an exercise that tested the pupils’ maths and literacy skills.

Excited youngsters eagerly responded to his questions and listened respectfully while he spoke.

Sam will be with the Wildcats for another three years and hopes to continue pursuing a teaching career in between matches.

Assistant principal Kelly Hall said: “It’s very exciting to have him here and we are very lucky because he’s exactly the role model children need at this school, especially boys.

“Some of the children have already to gone to watch one of his games, they love his lessons, they’re brilliant.”

Keegan Rowbothal, nine, said: “I’m enjoying the lessons and I liked going to see the Wildcats play, it was a good experience.

“I started learning about them over the summer and it’s good that he’s my teacher too.”