Ruth Fox was guided to appear on Ultimate Goal by being transparent and honest with her story, but the experience has given her so much more in return.
The Ultimate Goal TV show was a six-part reality series that aired on BT Sport and starred 31 women hoping to make it to a final game in front of agents and scouts to demonstrate their talent.
At the home of England’s soccer teams – St. George’s Park – the players lived and breathed the chance, training and playing and were assisted by former England duo Eni Aluko and Rachel Brown-Finnis, as well as former players and twin sisters Mollie and Rosie Kmita.
Fox, 21, applied without expecting an answer, but she was given the green light to travel to England’s homeland after being asked to expand on her story.
The players have been put through their paces during the series and have received master lessons from Rio Ferdinand, Fara Williams, Peter Crouch, Freddie Ljungberg, Jill Scott and Robin van Persie.
The player from St. Ives Town FC Ladies didn’t know what to expect, but she was confident in her abilities after hearing the encouraging words from Aluko.
“I learned a lot, both socially and technically. Socially, it really challenged me, and since I went to college two weeks after the Ultimate Goal experience, it prepared me perfectly,” said Fox.
I knew that I was going to be able to leave home, be happy with myself, and have the confidence that I could make friends.
For my confidence, too: when you kick a ball in training and Eni Aluko comes up to you and says, “Wow, Ruth, you can score goals,” that’s something that’s going to stay with me forever.
That has given me a lot of faith that I can score goals, and by playing up front now, I’ve begun to prove that.
It really was a great fit because it was because of my attacking abilities that I made it to the round of 16, and now my coach has taken me forward.
“Unless I had the help of Eni Aluko and the rest of the coaching staff, I wouldn’t have the confidence to score goals.
I really don’t think that if I hadn’t made it to the round of 16, I would have the confidence I have now.
“When other people believe in you, it helps you believe in yourself, and that’s something I really took away.”
Fox was one of the players who made it to the 16th round and was included in the series’ final game, which was won by her team.
But for the 21-year-old, who wanted to be transparent and vulnerable about her past struggles, it wasn’t just about soccer.
In the show, a student from the University of Bedfordshire read an extract from the book she released when she was 18: “Within the White Lines: How The Beautiful Game Saved My Life.”
At age 14, she was diagnosed with depression and took time off from sports before returning, but then reached a point at age 17 where she had suicidal thoughts.
Fox had hospital stays last year and gradually discovered some relief when she was diagnosed with emotionally disturbed personality disorder.
“I was diagnosed last year when I was in the hospital, and it’s something I knew very little about when I was diagnosed,” Fox explained.
And it’s a frightening thing, because the first thing that pops up is all the bad facts and signs of it when you Google it.
“To be diagnosed with something that has such a negative connotation is really frightening.
“My big goal is to create positive awareness about EUPD and show that you can live with the disease, you can live a relatively normal life. You can live, you can play soccer, you can go to university and have friends.”
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Fox had the chance to share her story in episode three of “Ultimate Goal,” and talk candidly about her soccer journey.
After the episode aired, she was able to shed a light on mental health and got beneficial reviews, while viewers also called for her book and it reached its highest ranking ever.
Fox added, “It was amazing and I wanted to touch young players who are potentially in the position I was in, especially for me.”
For them, I wanted to be a beacon of hope and light, to show them that even dark days are possible.