Wexford Youths manager John Flood shunned last night’s glitzy Ballon d’Or ceremony to stay at work in his Centra shop in Ramsgrange and organise St Valentine’s Day promotions.
Flood is the man who makes sure every Wexford Youths match at their home ground in Ferrycarrig Park is recorded so the footage can be then used to analyse their performances.
October 20, 2013 was no different and 21-year-old Besarta Ajeti, originally from Kosovo, was behind the lens that day.
She caught Stephanie’s sensationalist strike on camera, it was uploaded on Youtube and viewed close to six million times and Stephanie went to the Ballon d’Or where she finished runner up to James Rodriguez in the Puskas Goal of the Year award.
Flood however, had prior engagements.
“I did get an invite to go to the awards, but I didn’t get into football to be wearing tuxedos and that stuff,” said Flood in an interview with the Irish Examiner.
“There were a lot more people deserving to be going than me. People like Stephanie Roche and her family.”
Flood was invited to Zurich last night as copyright holder of the footage that ensured the whole world, and not just the 95 fans present in Ferrycarrig Park, got to see Stephanie’s wonder volley.
But grounded Flood was quick to pass the praise onto Ajeti.
“People talk about it being a fluke that the goal was caught on camera. There was no fluke about it from our perspective,” added Flood.
“We record all our home games, and indeed some away matches, and then use the footage for analysis each week. We bought the camera equipment, stands and that stuff out of our own pockets.
“On that occasion we were using a standard Sony HD camera. Besarta Ajeti, who is from Kosovo originally, was filming that day. Besarta had been out with a long-term injury and to keep her involved with the squad she was doing a lot of our video work at matches and has shown a real flair for it.
“People might complain the footage was a bit grainy, but it was an awful day with thunder and lightning so it was great credit to Besarta that she got what she got.”
Besarta admits she missed a goal in a previous match and that she wasn’t going to let it happen again.
“It was a very, very cold and windy day. I was filming up on top of scaffolding and it was very tough to hold onto the camera because of the conditions,” said Besarta.
“I had missed a goal in a previous game because I had to put the camera down to blow my hands to warm them up. So I wasn’t going to let that happen again.”
While Roche has put herself on the world stage, the fairytale story is pleasing Flood for other reasons.
“I’m delighted for Steph. This wasn’t a once-off, this is just a taste of what she can do and has done on a regular basis for club and country.
“But the most pleasing thing from all of this is that it has put a spotlight on women’s football and has helped promote the game here. There are 15 or 20 players in Ireland who could easily make it in the professional ranks and hopefully this will get them more recognition."
Stephanie Roche is hoping that her feat of pushing James Rodríguez close for the Fifa Puskás Goal of the Year provides a boost for women’s football in Ireland and further afield.