Former ITFC volunteer on his journey to international football management

Ben Pugh previously volunteered at Ipswich Town FC before taking a job on at the academy

Ben Pugh previously volunteered at Ipswich Town FC before taking a job on at the academy - Credit: Supplied by Ben Pugh

Former Ipswich Town academy coach and Suffolk New College student Ben Pugh has spoken about his journey to becoming an international football manager.

When Ipswich-born Ben Pugh passed through the college with a sports degree from the University of Suffolk in 2014, little did his peers know the Tractor Boys and Liverpool fan was destined for international football management.

Ben Pugh, manager of the Cayman Islands national team 

Ben Pugh, manager of the Cayman Islands national team - Credit: Supplied by Ben Pugh

A volunteering role at Ipswich Town under Mick McCarthy soon turned to a full-time senior coaching job within the academy, before he swapped the Shotley Peninsula for the Caribbean Sea in late 2018.

By March 2019, his hard work earned him a position as the Cayman Islands national team manager, and he recently took on the role of director of coaching.

The national side hadn’t won a game in nine years before his arrival – creating a winning side from a total population of just under 65,000 people was never going to be easy.

But the 31-year-old has since recorded four victories – including an impressive first-leg win against Barbados – and narrowly missed out on qualification for the CONCACAF Nations League on goal difference against the Bajans.

Next up for his side are two World Cup qualifiers which will see them face up against Suriname and Canada.

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Speaking to a group of Suffolk New College students, Mr Pugh said his exploits come thanks to "never saying no" to a coaching opportunity, adding: "If I didn’t go along, someone else would."

He said: “My advice to the students is that you need to be the hardest working person in the room.

"Put yourself out there, volunteer, be dedicated and maximise every opportunity.

"You’ve also got to be honest, resilient and gritty if you want a career in football and then if you put all of this together, there is no reason why you can’t be successful.”

Ben Pugh has so far led the Cayman Islands to four victories

Ben Pugh has so far led the Cayman Islands to four victories - Credit: Supplied by Ben Pugh

Mr Pugh, who has sought advice from the current Belgium manager, Roberto Martinez, admitted to missing Suffolk however.

He said, “I miss the cold weather, the people and going to watch football.

“I’m very happy where I am but one day I’d love to manage in the Premier League.

The event was organised by head of sport Lee Mandley as part of a series of newly established ‘Suffolk New College Pro Talks’.

Head of sport at Suffolk New College, Lee Mandley and Ben Pugh playing for The Holbrook Swan

Head of sport at Suffolk New College, Lee Mandley and Ben Pugh playing for The Holbrook Swan - Credit: Lee Mandley

Mr Mandley said: “We are determined to do all we can to ensure that our students don’t miss out on opportunities during lockdown. Therefore these ‘Pro Talks’ are a way for our students to get advice from people who are currently in the industry - and get hints and tips on what they need to do to build a successful career.

“So far, all the speakers demonstrated that if you work hard, you’ve got a great chance of getting a job that you want. They were all really nice, positive and encouraging people and I believe this is also an important lesson for our students to learn."

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