Behind the English accent Ben Cahn seems much older than his twenty-eight years. The Head Coach of the Central Coast Mariners Academy talks with an air of certainty that football is where he belongs, filling Mariners fans with confidence that our next generation is in the right hands.
Cahn proves that success behind the scenes is just as rewarding.
Central Coast Mariners Academy Director Ken Schembri handpicked Cahn to lead the Academy first team through the PS4 NPL 2 competition, a crucial job for the Yellow & Navy. The London raised lad traded the idyllic shores of Noosa for the palm trees of Gosford and tells us how big of a part football plays in his life.
“It’s everything … It’s been my whole life for all my life,” Cahn said. “I’ve never really known anything different. I’ve always been completely driven, completely passionate to succeed in football. “
As a youngster Cahn spent time as a player with Crystal Palace and Fulham at academy level, which taught the now ‘Coastie’ that he had talent, but at age 18, he faced the harsh competitive reality of professional football and turned to a path where he could make a difference to other emerging players.
“My playing days in England aren’t something I speak too much about. They’re probably something I’m not too proud of either,” Cahn said.
“I probably realised that I hadn’t done enough to secure a professional contract anywhere, so my focus started to move towards coaching which is what has led me on the journey to here.”
Undoubtedly, that realisation has contributed to the maturity and resilience that is so remarkably notable of Cahn.
“I also had some good advice from a very good coach who said to me that, ‘I’ll be honest, I don’t think you’ll get yourself a pro contract,” Cahn said.
“‘But,” he said, “I think you have all the abilities to be a top coach so my advice would be to learn that trade as quickly as possible.”
In that time the former Noosa Lions Player/Coach played locally and soon enough he was coaching again, first at Sunshine Coast FC and then as a player coach for Noosa. Before he could help it he’d fallen back in love with the game.
“I’ve spent the last ten, eleven years doing everything I can to learn about myself, learn about football, the game and coaching. I’ve sacrificed a lot and given up a lot in my life to make sure I can be the best coach I can be,” Cahn said.
Cahn makes it known that football success is not all about wearing a jersey on the pitch. Making the transition from player to coach is something not all footballers can do, let alone with so much success in what is a relatively young career.
“I always used to say that nothing would compare to playing the game, but I haven’t really found that. I get as much enjoyment out of bringing the best out of other people as I did trying to bring the best out of myself as a player.
“There’s tremendous reward in seeing a young player in a difficult place personally and professionally and helping them through it and seeing his or her performances and seeing them rise,” Cahn said.
But in his experience coaching players from under 7s to academy level, Cahn credits one trait as the key to success in the world of professional football. Passion.
“If I come across a player that has that burning desire and passion to succeed and loves his game, I immediately connect,” Cahn said.
“You need to have that drive to be able to handle disappointment and criticism. You can have everything else but if you don’t love it from a really deep place I think it’s really hard to go on and grind out a career.”
It’s that passion that has often seen Cahn torn between his obsession with the game and his life outside of football.
“You take everything to sleep with you and wake up with it the next morning.
When you have that passion for something and you want results and you want to see developments in your players you never switch off from it.”
With Cahn leading the way, it’s safe to say the Mariners Academy squad is in safe hands.