Fan favourite Ben Sigmund has been made a Wellington Phoenix ambassador and can’t wait to get his teeth into the new role.
Sigmund, who retired from playing at the end of last season, will be mentoring players in the club’s Academy, supporting the younger professionals and helping the older pros carry out their corporate duties with the club’s partners.
The former All White is well prepared for his new job having qualified as a life coach during his time as a player.
While his team-mates were only just getting out of bed Sigmund would already be at the club’s Newtown Park training ground sitting at coach Ernie Merrick’s desk on skype studying for his Life Coaching Certificate.
“I visualised this role three or four years ago and began working towards making it happen,” Sigmund said.
“I wish there had been someone in this type of role when I was starting out.
“I got my first All Whites cap at 18 but didn’t get a professional contract till I was 26.
“It would have been easy to go off the rails but I was fortunate in having the family support to get back on track.
“I think I could have played a lot more games for New Zealand had I had someone to help and advise me at the start.”
Sigmund says it is important for youngsters starting out on a football career to realise what it takes to not only be a good professional but also a good person.
“They are representing the club and they need to understand what it takes to do that properly.
“It is also important that they look to the future in case football doesn’t turn out as they hoped.
“It can be devastating for a young man if his dreams are shattered by injury or they don’t get the hoped for professional contract.
“They need someone who has been through what they are going through to prepare them if it doesn’t work out.
“I was one of the fortunate ones who got back on track thanks to the solid support I received from my family.
“From my own experiences I know how important it is to establish a relationship with these kids.”
Sigmund also believes he has a big role to play with senior players out injured who have to deal with corporate sponsors on match day.
“Yes, they do go to watch the football but it is important they have fun as well,” he said.
“I watch the Mad Butcher (Peter Leitch) at Warriors games and how he relates to the sponsors and fans.
“They love him and he gives them a day to remember.
“Sponsors want player contact and a lot of players don’t realise how important that relationship is.”
“I want to help bring them out of themselves because it will be just as important to them and help them get over being out injured or not making the starting line up.”
While playing Sigmund couldn’t wait for the season to start and he is just as enthusiastic in his new role.
“It has the potential to be a really exciting season and I can’t wait for it to start.”