One of the goals of the Maccabi Tel Aviv Avi Cohen Youth Academy is to help the young players improve and advance to the first team. Behind the scenes are many coaches, assistants and staff that are there to provide the next education along the way. One of those people is Ben Kaplan, the Under-16 Assistant Coach who tells us about his time to date in the world of football and the work he does at the Youth Academy.

Ben Kaplan, 32 – Assistant Coach Under-16

Love of the game
“It began just like every other child who loved playing with a ball and then expanded in the 2000’s with my love of Ronaldo, the original Ronaldo. But it was my true love for Guardiola’s Barcelona.”

Entering the world of football
“I had a restaurant, I studied law, managed bars but as time passed by I knew what my dream was and that was to be a football coach of the highest level.”

“I put a tremendous amount of time into football including reading coaching manuals and books including those of Cruyff and Guradiola who is my role model. I have learnt a tremendous amount from them. It’s amazing to see how the small details make a huge difference.

In addition, I watch a lot of football and not just matches but also tactics on video and YouTube or on other websites that deal with the subject matter. You can learn a lot and in my opinion the world of football continues to change all the time and there is an endless amount to learn. There’s also an unlimited amount of people from who you can learn from.”

Role model
“I really respect and am a fan of Guardiola’s football who takes chances all over the pitch. I also like Maurizio Sarri’s style of play and I have begun really enjoying Klopp’s tactics as well although there seems to be chaotic and tough for me to totally understand his methodology.”

Working at Maccabi Tel Aviv
“Things are different at Maccabi Tel Aviv. Performance Director Patrick van Leeuwen’s philosophy is very clear and the whole department plays the same style which is terrific and helps the coaches out a lot. If you get a new team, they are already prepared to play and that makes things move faster along. I work with Eran Sassi who is an excellent coach and we get along really well. I have the freedom to offer my thoughts and opinions but ultimately he has the final word.”

His role
“As an assistant I get the pitch ready for training, work with Eran to prepare the content of the sessions, review match videos, work with the players during the practice and do almost everything that a head coach does. We have a lot of responsibility as we help develop the best players in the country.”

Being part of the Yellow & Blue family
“Maccabi is like a home and that’s how I have felt over the past two years. There’s nothing more than I’d like to do than to be on the pitch, I can’t describe the love I have for my job. I can’t wait for every training session to begin and I never want them to end.

We are group of coaches who work with the youngsters and invest a tremendous amount of time into every single training session. We are all working towards the same goal and I hope that each and every player can go as far as possible and reach for their dreams. We have a terrific connection with them and we talk about all different types of things not just football. They know that I am here for their every need and they are no different than my family.”