Tuesday 24 April 2018

Stephanie Roche: Houston's decision to release me wasn't about my ability - It was simply business

Stephanie Roche
Stephanie Roche
Stephanie Roche: ‘I am now trying to figure out where I am going and what to do’.
Stephanie Roche with Houston Dash team-mates
Footballer Stephanie Roche who is moving to Houston Dash
Stephanie Roche

Stephanie Roche

It's been an incredibly difficult few days since I was released by Houston Dash and I am still in shock at how quickly things can change.

Just two days ago I had trained with the team and felt I had completed a very good session. I remember thinking to myself, 'If I keep doing well I'm bound to get some more game time'.

My coach Randy Waldrum told me himself I was one of the best players technically within the squad and also the best finisher, which was hugely positive and encouraging.

Houston's decision to release me wasn't about my ability as a player. It was business.

Most people in Ireland probably aren't familiar with the make-up of the American National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) squads.

Each team has a cap on the wages that they pay to the whole squad and there is also a cap on the number of foreign players allowed.

Footballer Stephanie Roche who is moving to Houston Dash
Footballer Stephanie Roche who is moving to Houston Dash

At the moment Houston are struggling badly for defensive cover and therefore acted quickly to sign two international defenders, Australian defender Ellie Brush and Brazilian Camila Martins Pereira.

An international spot and salary space needed to be freed up and I was released to allow the defenders to join the Dash. There is no sentiment involved. It's all business.

I received an email from our General Manager the night before requesting a meeting with our coach the following morning. The alarm bells were ringing as soon as I received the message as it is unusual for both the General Manager and manager to want to talk to a player. Immediately I suspected something was amiss.

When I arrived for the meeting the following morning, I met both of them outside the dressing room and we went into an office.

Stephanie Roche: ‘I am now trying to figure out where I am going and what to do’.
Stephanie Roche: ‘I am now trying to figure out where I am going and what to do’.

Once I sat down I was handed a brown envelope which contained my exit physical form. Just like that, I had been released from the roster.

I was told that the decision essentially boiled down to the fact they required defensive cover and unfortunately, I was the one who had to make way.

The meeting was very short, no more than five minutes. There was little more that could be said. I shook both their hands and wished them the best of luck for the rest of the season.

In those long five minutes, everything I had known over the last few months was over. Now the difficult part is to try and pick up the pieces and figure out my next move.

The last few days have been very difficult. Football is all I know, it's always been all I wanted to do.  Yes it hurts, but it only hurts so much because I love the game so much.

Stephanie Roche with Houston Dash team-mates
Stephanie Roche with Houston Dash team-mates

Would I do it all over again knowing the outcome would be the same? Without a doubt.

Would I encourage other young girls to get involved and get out and play football (or any other sport for that matter)? Most certainly I would.

Since I moved to Houston I have seen how the professional sports world works. I have seen that even NFL stars are released because of salary restrictions and not because of their ability. It's across the board too in all their major sports.

I've also seen how it inspires the released player to work harder. That "chip on their shoulder" attitude can be used positively to find a new opportunity. That has been my attitude since I received the disappointing news.

I'm determined to keep going and would love another shot at this league. I'm convinced having spent a few months with Houston that I'm good enough to be in their team or any other team if I keep doing what I'm doing.

I don't know what the future will hold but I'm exploring my options at the minute. This is an unusual situation to be faced with. My contract was due to end at the end of the season, not abruptly after just five games.

On reflection, I gave 100pc at all times to make things happen in Houston and I am proud that I can look myself in the mirror knowing I gave it my best shot. 

I was simply on the wrong end of someone's professional opinion and that happens to people all the time. 

I will not allow this one experience to define me.

Lastly, I'd just like to thank everyone for their kind messages and support since I was released. Being so far from home, it means a lot during a difficult time.

Online Editors

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