Stephanie Roche: “Football is my big passion”
There are not many people that have not heard of the name Stephanie Roche over recent months, the Irish international scored a wonder goal that saw her nominated for the Puskas Goal of the Year, visit the White House and experience a whole new level of media attention.
Gianluca Lia questions what motivated Stephanie to get into football, her reaction to the Puskas Goal of the Year nomination and the advice she would give to girls who want to become professional footballers.
The Republic of Ireland and Houston Dash player made time to answer questions from Women’s Soccer United about the wonderful experiences her football career has taken her on so far.
Women’s Soccer United: How did your passion towards the game of football get started?
Stephanie Roche: I’ve been playing football since I was very young. I used to play out on the street with the local boys. My brothers were always interested in football so I suppose it started there.
WSU: Do any members of your family play football or any other sport? Have you ever tried other sports?
Stephanie Roche: My brother Eric plays so I would have learnt a lot from him. My boyfriend also plays in the premier league in Ireland. Football is my big passion although I do watch other sports. football is the only one I play!
WSU: Who are your role models in football?
Stephanie Roche: Ronaldo would be someone that I look up to, his skill, pace and power is amazing. it was fantastic to get to meet him at the Ballon D’Or.
WSU: Recall your first memory in football and what were your ambitions when you started it?
Stephanie Roche: I remember playing football out on the street with the boys, one of my elderly neighbours used to call me Baggio! I think people expected my love of football to fade as I got older, but it hasn’t and I knew fairly young that I wanted to represent my country and to try play at the highest level possible.
WSU: Your famous goal – when did you score it and how did you feel scoring such a spectacular goal?
Stephanie Roche: I scored the goal in October 2013. I didn’t really think much about it at the time, it was my first goal of the season so I was glad to open my tally for the season. It was only afterwards when I saw it back that I realised that it was something a bit special.
WSU: What were the reactions of your family, friends etc after that goal?
Stephanie Roche: A few friends joked that it would go viral on the internet, but I never thought that it would get the reaction that it has gotten.
WSU: When and how did FIFA contact you about being selected as a potential winner for the Puskas Goal of the Year Award? How did you reacted to that?
Stephanie Roche: I found out on Twitter! My notifications went crazy and I saw that I had been selected in the top 10, I was so thrilled and really honoured to be named alongside such great players.
Is the women football movement in Ireland improving? Any improvements from when you started playing as a child till today?
It’s definitely improving all the time, but does have a long way to go. When I was a child I had to play with a boys team because there were no girls teams in my area, but now every underage club in Ireland has girls teams.
WSU: What can be done in order to raise the game, both in Ireland and Europe? Can media give that boost by exposing more women football?
Stephanie Roche: I think there needs to be more investment in women’s football. Increased media exposure for women’s football can only help to encourage people to support it and increased crowds and interest will eventually lead to increased investment.
WSU: What message would you send to all the girls who work hard to become professional footballers?
Stephanie Roche: Never give up, its a tough industry but like with everything practice makes perfect so keep training and playing and most of all enjoy the game.
Sports journalist from Malta with a great passion towards women’s football. My interest towards women’s football commenced during the 2007 FIFA World Cup and from then on I started to catch up with all international tournaments that used to be broadcasted. My involvement in local women’s football started few years ago by attending all national team’s matches and sometimes used to attend some of the domestic league’s matches. I hope that my articles with WSU help our local league to build an important reputation among other nations and expose our girls in this movement.