This week Sports Shots have taken some time away from our local clubs to speak to a youngster who started locally but has made such progress in the past couple of years that has seen him graduate from junior level, to youth level, & into men’s football in the Spartan South Midlands League, followed very quickly by a move up to the Southern League.
Ben Acquaye started in junior football across Milton Keynes and moved over to Buckingham Athletic when Steve Farmborough took over the reins of the Ath U18’s just three years ago. Ben starred in the team that season, which included an FA Youth cup tie against Northampton Town and from there has never looked back.
He was soon in the first team at Stratford Fields, and it wasn’t long before higher level clubs noticed a talented youngster on their door step, and it did not take long for Kempston Rovers to come knocking.
Since then Ben has moved on to AFC Rushden & Diamonds, and has started to flourish at step three of the non-league pyramid, scoring a sublime free kick recently against Hednesford which can be viewed using this link: (clip courtesy of @HednesfordTv) https://twitter.com/i/status/1178295579262275587
Sports Shots caught up with Ben this week to ask where he started his football life:
Before I joined Buckingham I was playing locally for MK City
You came to Athletic with Steve Farmborough, what was that season like at the club, winning the league and playing Northampton Town in the FA Youth Cup?
It was a great season to win the league, and also to be the first youth team at the club to reach the first round of the FA Youth Cup, that was a big moment
What are your best memories of being an Athletic player?
My best memory I would say would be getting to the first round of the FA Youth Cup which was a massive achievement from everyone at the club
From Buckingham to Kempston Rovers, how was that for you?
It was a new experience for me, to move up two divisions was hard and it took me a while to get used to that level, the play was a lot quicker and much more intense
How did the move to Rushden come about, and how much thought did you have to give it?
First time I knew Rushden were interested in me was in pre-season when we played them in a friendly, and I did quite well which attracted them. I had a lot to think about before I joined in terms of would I be playing week in week out, would I be ready for the step up etc
Were you aware of their history, and what they’ve been through as a club?
Yes I knew about the history of the club and how they used to be a football league club, it’s sad what happened but the aim now is to keep on improving and hopefully get the club back to where they belong in a couple of years
How has it been settling in since you joined?
When I joined everyone was very welcoming and made me feel settled, which helped me integrate into the squad a lot quicker
One good goal a couple of weeks ago as we’ve all seen on social media, what did the gaffer say to you after the game?
’I never knew you had that in your locker!’ Normally in training before we start I’m always working on my free kicks and sometimes they fly over the fence but it was nice to score that one, it’s definitely up there as one of my favourite goals
What are the biggest differences you’ve noticed between the leagues you have played in so far?
I would say the biggest difference would be fitness and being clever on the ball, at this level if you give the ball away cheaply you’ll be in big trouble so it’s always important to be smart on the ball and try to retain possession. Fitness is also key as some games can be end to end and you need to make sure you can go up and down the pitch to support the attack and also help to defend
How have the Rushden supporters been towards you since joining?
The fans get behind the whole team and encourage us to keep on pushing, they really motivate me to give more for them every time we play
What piece of advice would you give to any youngsters across the Milton Keynes area who are currently playing junior football still, and hope to carry on playing into mens football?
To always work hard and believe in their ability, it’s important to be confident in football, without confidence you won’t get far so always try to have the mindset that you are good enough to achieve whatever you want in life
Who have been your biggest influences in the game to date, and what’s been the biggest learning curve so far?
Biggest influence would be Andres Iniesta, I just enjoyed the way he played football and the way he carried himself on the pitch and off pitch, he won virtually everything in football and is definitely one of the best to ever play the game. The biggest learning curve for me is you can’t afford to have one good game and then play bad in the next three, it’s important to be consistent every game you play which makes you stand out a lot more
How far do you think this current Rushden squad can go up the leagues?
Our aim this season is to be in around the playoffs and I believe if we play to our strengths and have the right mindset every game we can achieve this goal
Finally, have you had much interest from other clubs at higher levels yet?
Right now I’m just enjoying my football at Rushden, I feel very happy here and I’m still only nineteen so to be trusted to play in such a tough league by the manager shows the faith he has in me
Sports Shots would like to thank Ben for his time this week