Kennedy gets his chance
Ben Kennedy is making the most of his chance as the Jets' number one custodian.
After waiting in the wings for a number of season Newcastle goalkeeper Ben Kennedy is making the most of his chance as the Jets' number one custodian.
The 22-year-old has been with the Newcastle club since their inaugural season in the Hyundai A-League but he warmed the bench behind first choice goalkeeper Liam Reddy and was used as a stop-gap measure before international representative Ante Covic arrived at the club a few weeks into the second season of the Hyundai A-League.
But since Covic departed for Sweden during Newcastle's impressive Asian Champions League campaign earlier this year, Kennedy has been rewarded with top spot in goals for the Jets.
"I always knew the time would come and I am fairly young still, but it was just a matter of being patient and biding my time and waiting for that time to come," Kennedy told Sportal.
"It was a bit tough at first - Ante was good for the club and obviously a quality player but I feel I am coming out of his shadow and hopefully just my performances on the field will allow me to do that."
"Ante was a big influence on me and I learned a lot of things from him. He was great to have around and he was probably the best keeper in Australia at the time."
"He had a lot of experience from playing in Europe and being in the World Cup team so it was great to have him here"
"The difficult thing for me was trying to keep fit and more so to try to keep match-fit for such a long time but I just had to train hard and try to perform in training games and I thought I was in fairly good shape."
Kennedy admitted being thrown into the deep end during the ACL was pretty tough at the time but he was thrilled to finally be getting his chance to show his wares on the big stage.
"It was a bit of a surprise but it was good experience for me," he said. "I thought I went pretty well and it helped set me up for the A-League season."
Kennedy believes he has had a decent start to his Hyundai A-League career and it will only get better once he develops a strong relationship with his defence.
"I haven't been going too bad, there is always things to improve and it is just a matter of working on that in training and so far so good," he said.
"I just try to keep my feet on the ground and keep training and hopefully it shows on the weekends.
"It always tough when players are coming and going, especially in the backline but the more with played together the more comfortable we will be."
As a local Newcastle junior Kennedy said he is very proud to play for his local club and credits former Jets coach Gary van Egmond as the man responsible for kick-starting his career with Newcastle.
"I played for the Newcastle United juniors in the New South Wales Cup and I played the local league with Adamstown Rosebuds and the Broadmeadow Magic," he recalled.
"The first season of the A-League I was signed on as a trainee and I was signed on full-time in the second season of the A-League."
"It was Gary Van Egmond who approached me. I was training with the youth team when the NSL was around and Gary was the assistant coach and I was training with the first team so Gary was always around."
"When the first time the A-League came around he was assistant manager so he got me a traineeship so it was basically him that got my on board."
"As you are growing up you always want to play for your local team and for that to have happened it I am pretty proud - there are not too many local boys in the team so I am proud to be one of them."
Kennedy admitted the snap departure of Van Egmond shocked everyone at the club but the young custodian said he was able to cope with the upheaval.
"I have known Gary since I was 15 so it was a bit of a shock but the change is sometimes good and those things happen in football."
In his spare time Kennedy said he likes to listen to 80s music (much to the frustration of his girlfriend) and work on his golf game.
"At the moment I have been playing a lot of golf and I am trying hard to improve my golf game." He said. "I don't really have a handicap as such but people I have played with said it would be about 10."
Like most ambitious footballers Kennedy said he would love to gain representative honours and try his hand in a big league overseas but for the moment he is most keen to perform on the football field.
"We've got a pretty good squad and the boys have always been confident and it is just the media writing us off saying we are going to next to last so we have shown this season we can do the job and we are keen to prove them wrong," he said.
"It would always be great to play for Australia and if I got the opportunity I would be mad not to try overseas but at the moment I will take it as it comes."
"I am pretty happy here at the Jets and I am just concentrating on that."