Alexandra Villarreal
December 05, 2014 11:40 am

Remember Bend It Like Beckham? Well we’re willing to wager that soon girls will be hoping to bend it like Stephanie Roche.

Stephanie, who is a 25-year-old Irish woman, is a professional soccer player playing for the French Division 1 team ASPTT Albi as well as playing on Ireland’s female squad. Earlier this year, while playing for the small Irish club Peaumont United, Stephanie scored a goal that is now being called one of the three best soccer goals of the year and she is up for the prestigious FIFA Puskas Award. It is the first time in the history of the game that a goal made by a woman has made it to the Puskas shortlist.

Between Oct. 3, 2013 and Sept. 26, 2014, 10 professional soccer players from around the world made expert kicks that would put them on FIFA’s map for the Puskas. Then, on Dec. 1, James Rodriguez and Robin van Persie, who both made their goals at the World Cup, joined Roche when FIFA announced the trio as the cream of the crop. Now, it’s up to voters to decide who will nab that number one spot.

No matter who wins the Puskas, the fact that Roche was selected in that top three is huge. When she made her now-iconic kick in Oct., she was in a near-empty stadium outside of Dublin. Thanks to some lucky video-ing and YouTube her goal has now been seen by millions.

“It’s not just good for women’s football in Ireland but for women’s football all over the world. It’s being seen at a higher stage,” she said, according to Think Progress. “It’s something I’m obviously very proud of.”

Women’s professional soccer is far too often regarded as requiring less technical skill than men’s soccer. Earlier this year professional female players even sued FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association for gender discrimination after it was announced that the 2015 Women’s World Cup would be played on artificial turf rather than real grass — something that changes the pacing of the game, makes injuries more dangerous, and would never ever happen with the boys. Hopefully Roche’s goal will help to close this gender gap in the sport and prove once and for all that the beautiful game is not any less beautiful (or skillful) when played by women.

Check out her gorgeous goal and vote for Stephanie to win the Puskas, here.

[Image via]

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