Tuesday 22 August 2017

'We weren’t being divas' - Stephanie Roche on Irish women's team's press conference

4 April 2017; Stephanie Roche, centre, of the Republic of Ireland Women's National Team speaks alongside team-mates, seated from left, captain Emma Byrne, Aine O'Gorman, and Ethel Buckley, left, SIPTU Services Division, during a women's national team press conference at Liberty Hall in Dublin. Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
4 April 2017; Stephanie Roche, centre, of the Republic of Ireland Women's National Team speaks alongside team-mates, seated from left, captain Emma Byrne, Aine O'Gorman, and Ethel Buckley, left, SIPTU Services Division, during a women's national team press conference at Liberty Hall in Dublin. Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

Stephanie Roche was more nervous heading into the press conference about the FAI’s treatment of the Irish women’s soccer team than she has ever been heading onto the pitch for an international match.

Earlier this month, fourteen members of the Republic of Ireland women’s team and their representatives raised concerns over general treatment of the squad, including inadequate changing facilities for some matches and payments for loss of earnings.

The press conference generated huge attention in the press and was dubbed the team’s Saipan moment.

“A lot of us were more nervous ahead of that press conference than we were ahead of a match,” she said.

“Everyone was very supportive and I am now pleased that we have a resolution.”

She said: “We weren’t being divas. A lot of us have been playing with the team for a while and we are seeing the talent coming through. We want to see the right support and structures in place for them.

“It’s more the home based players who need the support. We are looked after well on camp but not away from camp. We have now managed to achieve what we wanted to get.”

She said the discussions with the FAI were long but ultimately fruitful.

“We are a united team and we were all there and we all knew we weren’t leaving until we got everything we wanted.”

The athlete said they had to “make a song and dance” to ensure they got what they wanted.

“It’s not about women and men it is about us being treated well and equal as players and footballers. And to be given the stepping stones to achieve what we want."

Ireland have been drawn in Group 3 for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifiers and will be joined by the Netherlands and Norway, as well as Slovakia, who they defeated 1-0 in a friendly at Tallaght Stadium earlier this month.

Roche said she was pleased with the draw. “We have to be happy with the group, I think we all are so I am looking forward to it,” she told Ray D’Arcy on his RTE One radio programme.

“We haven’t got Germany and avoided the likes of Spain. We are all quite confident we can get something.”

Roche was talking at the launch of Londis Hell and Back adventure race which attracts more than 21,000 participants.

“It’s like a big obstacle course,” she said.

Londis will host A Little Piece of Heaven at the end of the HELL & BACK course, where participants will be given refreshments.

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