Benni's goal is to be coach
THERE were many times when Benni McCarthy felt like walking away from his dream of becoming a football coach.
But deep down he knew he could not give up on his dream. Soccer is the only thing he knows and he is good at it.
“I had plenty of doubts in my mind,” McCarthy, 39, said. “Coaches are put under so much pressure 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.
Last week the Bafana Bafana top scorer (32 goals) got his Uefa A Licence in Ireland. He already had his Uefa B Licence coaching badge, as well as a Level 2 certificate in coaching football.
His next challenge is to get the Uefa Pro Licence, the highest honour in coaching.
For now though, the former striker is clearly chuffed with his A Licence. His face lights up when he talks about his new qualification.
The former Porto man has achieved what few people manage.
“I'm very proud of myself. This just goes to show hard work does pay off. If you want to succeed, you have to knuckle down.”
Not only was McCarthy put to the test on the football field, but also in the classroom. “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.”
The Cape Town-born footballer also learnt about the business side of soccer, experiencing what it was like working with CEOs, and getting a glimpse of the inner workings of a boardroom where 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 recently I got to experience the business side of things.”
McCarthy spent a considerable amount of time with highly 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 was then appointed assistant coach at Sint Truiden in Belgium, but left after a few months.
Now he is back home and eyeing a job at a top football club, while completing his Pro Licence.
McCarthy said while it would be a dream come true to manage his former club, Orlando Pirates, rumours linking him to the club were speculation.
“I'm honoured the fans think of me in that way, and think I have what it takes to manage such a great club. If I ever got that opportunity, there would be no way I would turn it down. I know what Pirates need. I’ve worn the shirt.”
He also quashed rumours that he was a contender to coach Bafana Bafana.
“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 manager, and didn’t want to be offered a job based on his past ability as a footballer.
“I don’t want people to say that the only reason I was given a job was because I wasn’t a bad footballer. I’ve worked hard and educated myself. 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.”
Coaching the national side is definitely on his 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.