INDONESIA. Francis Mollett is a teacher at the Green School in Bali, a private international school the educates sustainable environmental policies. Francis co-founded the ocean program, which introduces students to surfing. Having ASI credentials has helped with the schools program.
What is your Background?
I am half Portuguese, half English. Growing up in Portugal, 20 mins from the coast I was constantly in the ocean from a very early age and I have tried almost every water-sport that will bring me closer to the seas and give me a deeper understanding of their beauty, richness and power.
I am a teacher at the Green School Bali where I co-founded and coordinated SOAP (Student Ocean Ambassadors Program™) a four-pronged approach to putting ocean regeneration at the at forefront of our students’ educational experiences: Hook 'em, train 'em, brain 'em, launch 'em.
With this program, our community of learners of all ages work towards making our world more sustainable by local-to-globally placing education at the heart of service to our oceans.
What got you involved in the sport?
We always body-surfed as kids with whatever we had, or nothing. Any excuse to play in the waves was taken. My father was always keen to take us out and teach us how to respect but also love the ocean. I had heard of surfing standing up but only ever seen it in American movies or in magazines. Then one day, I saw some foreigners surfing upright, standing boldly on the waves and I knew I had to try that. It looked so graceful and fun. I wanted to walk on water too!
In those days there was a small community of surfers and only 1 place in Portugal that fixed boards in Ericeira. When the second place opened near my house in Sintra, I begged my parents to buy me a second hand board because I had done really well in my school exams that year. It was a birthday and Christmas present all in one and I was not disappointed. I took it home and laid it on the back of the family sofa and practiced balancing on it, pretending I was catching enormous waves….
Why did you become an ASI Instructor?
I wanted to become accredited and get some respectability to the SOAP program.
A lot of people still think surfing is for drop outs and rebels and I needed credentials to help convince people that we were serious about using surfing and other ocean-going activities as vehicle for some authentic and engaging learning.
What are you doing now?
Due to Covid restrictions, the SOAP program is on hold and I am taking the time to update our website and plan more amazing courses for when things open up again.
I am also still coaching a Balinese young man who came to me two years ago with a burning ambition to get to know the ocean better. His name is Teguh and he raised the equivalent of nearly 500 USD to help fund projects like WOAH (World Ocean Ambassadors Hangout) and other initiatives that connect local people to the oceans and teach them about their importance.
He gave me the money and when I asked what we could do for him in return he told me he (like many Balinese) couldn’t even swim so last year I taught him to swim and this year I am teaching him to surf. The money he raised went to bringing other locals kids to our event and I have been coaching him for free ever since.
What do you like about being an ASI instructor?
I feel empowered not just because of the certificate but also knowing that I have solid training that I can fall back on. It is also important for credibility and insurance reasons. I feel more confident knowing that I have shown due diligence in making sure I that I have everything I need should I need to protect myself legally.
How has COVID changed things where or how you deliver sessions.
See above. I am coaching one kid for free because I am not allowed to do more. Of course, I still coach my own children unofficially, most days we go to the beach.
Tell us about funny or interesting or nice situation that has happened to you with instructing?
Watching Teguh stand for the first time and seeing his tenacious determination to become a committed, conscientious, ocean ambassador is so rewarding!
If I am going to have a lasting, positive effect on the fate of the seas, it will probably be by influencing one kid at a time. I feel great knowing that I have touched and changed his life - I can’t wait to see how he pays the favour forward and shares the gift of the oceans with those around him.
This photo is me and my two sons at Pantai Seseh, Bali.
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