Coach Profile: RUTH BOYLE
Everyone knows we have the best coaches in Belfast, but few can match the international experience of one of our Under 15 girls’ coaches, Ruth Boyle.
Ruth started her Rosario coaching in 2018, in between representing Northern Ireland at the Homeless World Cup in Mexico and coaching this year’s team in Cardiff. We asked her some questions about her journey…
When did you start playing football?
I can’t really remember not playing football. I guess if I had to put an age on it, I was six or seven. I can picture myself playing against a wall.
What teams did you play for?
At 11, I played for my school. I was the only girl in the school league at that time, girls’ football teams didn’t exist back then.
Rosemount Youth Club had a boys’ team and I tried to train with them, but I was told girls weren’t allowed to play. I was heartbroken, I did cry over that, but a few years later they got enough girls to get a team together, so I played as a goalkeeper, and we played different youth clubs and were unbeaten.
I signed with Institute Football Club later, I played up front for them, and I also played for Derry City Ladies.
How did you start playing with Street Soccer?
I spent most of my teenage years in and out of trouble, and I went to prison. I’m not proud of that and I’m very remorseful for what I have done, but in there I decided to get my life on track, so I moved away from my old life. I ended up in a hostel, but I started to work through my problems with the help of others
I stopped playing football for years and I never thought I would become involved in the game again until a friend told me about Street Soccer. It was set up to help people who have experienced homelessness, mental health and addiction problems. They were very supportive.
I played for the Northern Ireland homeless team at the homeless World Cup in Mexico. I was being coached by two former Rosario players the ‘two Claires’, Clare Rea and Claire Carson.
Street soccer also gave me the opportunity to get my level 1 coaching badge and my disability coaching qualifications which I jumped at the chance to do. I also got the opportunity to go as a coach to this year’s Homeless World Cup which was in Cardiff. It was amazing helping ‘the Claires’ coach the Northern Ireland team.
What is it like being involved in a team like Street Soccer?
Being part of that team as a player or coach is very special. Especially at a life changing event like the Homeless World Cup. Each game it is inspiring to see people, who face their hardships in their day-to-day life forget about them when they are on the pitch. We had the pleasure of having refugees in our men and women’s teams, who left war torn places, came here and found themselves wearing our top and feeling as proud as we did.
How did you become involved with Rosario?
I live locally and when I came back from Mexico, Claire Rea persuaded me to ask if Rosario needed any coaches. It is giving me a great sense of worth and I am able to give something back to my community through football, which is amazing.
A highlight for me was when I was in the park and one of the girls called me her ‘coach’. I honestly looked around me to see were this coach was, but it was me! The penny dropped then how important being a coach is. It’s not just a weekend thing or a two day a week thing, it is a lifestyle and you can make a positive impact in peoples lives. It is a privilege and I hopefully do that when I coach.
Have you retired from playing?
I still play football and still enjoy it. I have played with Street Soccer for a few years now. We played against Rosario Ladies a few times, but I also played a couple of friendly matches for Rosario Ladies recently and have begun training with both teams.
I have become an ambassador for the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust. I tell my story to younger people and hope to inspire them that it is possible to change your life around.
The IFA has also asked me to get my level 2 coaching qualification and get involved in coaching inside prisons. Football is definitely a great tool to reach people.
I have also started saving and am hoping to go to the Homeless World Cup in Finland next year.