Saturday Star

Benni now has his sights on the coaching area

Bafana job definitely on his bucket list

- SAMEER NAIK

THERE were many times when Benni McCarthy felt like walking away from his dream of becoming a football coach.

Football is the only thing he knows. He was good at it. But deep down, he knew he couldn’t give up on his dream.

“I had plenty of doubts in my mind,” McCarthy, 39, said. “Coaches are put under so much pressure these days and get sacked after such a short time. I asked myself, ‘do I really want to put myself through all of this?’”

McCarthy had to dig deep. “I grew up in poverty, but I managed to make a success of my life. This was my motivation to continue pursuing my dreams,” he said.

Last week, Bafana Bafana’s all-time leading scorer (32 goals) received his Uefa A Licence in Ireland. He already had his Uefa B coaching badge as well as a Level Two certificat­e for coaching football.

McCarthy’s next challenge is to get his Uefa Pro Licence, the highest honour in coaching. For now, though, the former striker is chuffed with his A Licence; his face lights up with a wide smile as he talks about his new qualificat­ion.

The ex-Porto forward has achieved what very few people have managed to do.

“I’m very proud of myself. This just goes to show that hard work does pay off. If you want to succeed you have to knuckle down,” he said.

Not only was McCarthy put to the test on the football field, but also in the classroom during his journey to achieving his coaching badges.

“It felt like I was back in school. For the B Licence, I would spend the mornings on the football pitch learning about different training drills, and then in the afternoon, I would be learning in the classroom. At the end of the day, I was both mentally and physically exhausted,” he said.

The Cape Town- bor n footballer would also get a taste of the business side of the sport during his Uefa A Licence testing.

McCarthy experience­d what it was like working with CEOs, and had a glimpse of what went on in the boardroom where all the big decisions are made.

“This was something that was completely new to me, but something I enjoyed learning about. I have been involved in football for most of my life, but it was only until recently I got to experience the business side of things,” he said.

During his first two years applying for his coaching badges, McCarthy spent a considerab­le amount of time with experience­d managers, Neil Lennon (Glasgow Celtic) and Alan Stubbs (Hibernian FC), in the Scottish Premier League to gain experience.

“It was an opportunit­y for me to be around a team, players and just see how things are done,” he said.

McCarthy was then appointed assistant coach at Sint-Truiden in Belgium, but quit after just a few months.

Now, he is back home and eyeing a job at a top local football club, while completing his Pro Licence.

While McCarthy said it would be a dream come true to coach his former club, Orlando Pirates, rumours linking him to the Soweto giants are pure speculatio­n.

“I’m honoured the fans think of me in that way, and think I have what it takes to manage such a great historical club. And if I ever got the opportunit­y, there would be no way I would turn it down,” he said.

“I know what Pirates need. I’ve worn the shirt.”

He also quashed speculatio­n he was in contention to coach the national team, saying: “I’m far too young.

“I’m not ready. I’ve just learnt the ropes of coaching. It will be far too much pressure.”

McCarthy said he wanted to earn his stripes as a coach, and didn’t want to be offered a job based on his past ability as a footballer.

“I don’t want people to say the only reason I was given a job was because I wasn’t a bad footballer. I’ve worked hard and educated myself,” he added.

“I don’t want favours, I must be in a job because they think I’m the best guy for it and that I deserve it.”

But coaching Bafana is definitely on McCarthy’s bucket list: “I think any football coach would love to manage their national team one day.

“When you aspire to become a coach, that has to be on your bucket list. Playing on a world stage is the ultimate.”

“One day,” he said.

 ??  ?? Former Bafana Bafana striker Benni McCarthy says he will only consider the national team coaching job at a later stage in his coaching career. The 39-year-old has just completed his Uefa A coaching licence, and is keen on earning his Pro Licence.
Former Bafana Bafana striker Benni McCarthy says he will only consider the national team coaching job at a later stage in his coaching career. The 39-year-old has just completed his Uefa A coaching licence, and is keen on earning his Pro Licence.
 ??  ?? McCarthy is Bafana’s leading scorer with 32 goals.
McCarthy is Bafana’s leading scorer with 32 goals.

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