Ben Old on Handling Pressure, Navigating Injury and Living True to Your Values

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Ben Old (@_oldie8) played his football in Auckland as a kid before moving to Wellington as a 16 year old to join the Wellington Phoenix. After 3 years playing for the Academy he signed a deal to play professionally for the first team and made his debut as a substitute in the team’s 3–0 win over Western United. Ben went on to make 25 first team appearances in his maiden season, starting 12 of them. 

Ben also represented New Zealand at the 2019 U-17 World Cup in Brazil and was a travelling reserve for the OlyWhites team at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. I first met Ben when he joined AD, the Athlete Development programme I was leading at AUT Millennium in Auckland. He was just 9 years old at the time. 

In this conversation, we cover a wide range of topics including how Ben handles the pressure of playing in front of 35,000 fans and where this skill came from, the importance of disciplined practice and how Ben learnt to work hard, and being a child golf prodigy. Ben also talks about his recent hernia operation and what he has learnt about his body as a result of it, and we go deep into some of Ben’s core beliefs, including his perfectionistic streak and how he has learnt to challenge it. 

Ben’s reflective nature and level of awareness at such a young age is inspiring and is bound to serve him well in his career. You’ll notice a real willingness to be vulnerable in the conversation, which I love and I think we can all learn from. 


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