Saturday 22 October 2016

Stephanie Roche: Things happen for a reason - I'm determined to take my opportunity in Boston

Published 02/06/2015 | 14:50

Republic of Ireland soccer player Stephanie Roche. The former Houston Dash player has a week-long trial at the Boston Breakers.
Republic of Ireland soccer player Stephanie Roche. The former Houston Dash player has a week-long trial at the Boston Breakers.

Dublin to Houston, Houston to Boston, Boston to Houston, Houston to San Francisco, San Francisco to Fort Lauderdale and finally back to Houston.

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I've clocked up a lot of air miles the last few months, now it's Houston to Boston once again. All to chase a ball around a field!!

Football has offered me some fantastic opportunities over the years, allowing me to travel to countries all over the world. I have been fortunate enough to play in some of the finest stadiums against many of the most talented female footballers in the world. Not to mention the fact that I have made some very good friends along the way.

The last few weeks have been difficult, coming to terms with my release from the Houston Dash, but that's football and it's in the past now.

I have always been a glass half full person, so it's very much onwards and upwards.  I don't want to dwell on what could have been. It simply wasn't to be and now I want to move onto the next challenge.

I've been given the opportunity to visit Boston Breakers for a week. I decided to travel to Boston before I return to Dublin next week and train with the Irish team before making a decision on my future.

While the end of my time at the Dash was hugely disappointing, other doors are opening for me. I have been approached by a few teams and I'm happy to say I have some good options open to me right now.

Since arriving in Houston in March my boyfriend Dean and I have met some fantastic people. Brendan Keyes and his wife Gwen have been brilliant to help us settle, while Noel Mulhall helped Dean find a team in Houston. Subsequently he has gone above and beyond to help us along the way.

Brendan owns the Houston Hurricanes who Dean trained with and I was also invited to take part in sessions with the club the past few weeks to maintain my fitness levels while I find a new team. I truly believe everything in life happens for a reason.

I'm eagerly looking forward to the week of training in Boston before returning to Dublin for a week and to watch Ireland take on Scotland in the Aviva.

I can afford to make the visit home as there are breaks in most women's leagues for the World Cup in Canada, so I have time to carefully consider all my options.

Lastly, I couldn't finish without mentioning the sad news from last week and the passing of Bill O'Herlihy, who in my mind will always be remembered as a legend of Irish broadcasting.

I grew up watching 'Bill and the lads' on TV and always enjoyed their insightful, yet often humourous, analysis. I don't think we'll ever see a team like Bill with Eamon Dunphy, John Giles and Liam Brady again.

It's funny,  I never met Bill after the hype around the FIFA Goal of the Year nomination, but met him on numerous occasions away from football. I used to work in his local supermarket and I had the pleasure of meeting him on a few occasions. He didn't know me or know that I played football but was always polite and friendly and really seemed like a true gentleman.

Dean had to return to Ireland earlier than planned last week as we received the sad news that his grandmother passed away.

I've talked so much over the last few months about the barriers women's football has to pass. One of the biggest barriers I passed was being accepted as a footballer by Granny Zambra.

Before I met her for the first time, Dean and his brother Ross told me how she always said "football is for boys", but she eventually accepted me as a footballer and even began watching my games on TV.

She often asked about me when I was away and would say a prayer that we won. She loved her football and never missed a game on TV. It's funny as Granny Zambra was always a big fan of Bill O'Herlihy and the panel on RTE. Now they will take their stairway to heaven together!

I'd like to send my deepest condolences to both the O'Herlihy and Zambra families.

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