Being open and honest about her story led Ruth Fox to appear on Ultimate Goal, but the experience has given her so much more in return.
The TV show Ultimate Goal was a six-part reality series shown on BT Sport which showcased 31 women who were hoping to make it through to play in a final match and showcase their skills in front of agents and scouts.
The players lived and breathed the opportunity, training and playing at the home of England’s football teams – St George’s Park – and on hand to assist were former England duo Eni Aluko and Rachel Brown-Finnis, as well as former players and twin sisters Mollie and Rosie Kmita.
Fox, 21, applied not expecting to hear back but then after being asked to expand on her story, she was given the green light to head to the home of England.
The series saw the players put through their paces and receive masterclasses from Rio Ferdinand, Fara Williams, Peter Crouch, Freddie Ljungberg, Jill Scott and Robin van Persie.
The St Ives Town FC Ladies player went into the situation not knowing what to expect but came out more confident in her abilities after hearing words of encouragement from Aluko.
“I learnt a lot socially and technically. Socially it really pushed me and having gone to university two weeks after the Ultimate Goal experience, it prepared me perfectly for that,” Fox said.
“I knew I was going to be able to go away from home, be safe with myself and have confidence I’ll be able to make friends.
“Also, just for my confidence, when you’re kicking a ball around just for a training session and Eni Aluko comes up to you and says ‘Wow, Ruth you can score goals’ – that’s something that will stick by me forever.
“It’s given me masses of confidence that I can score goals and I’ve started to prove that now playing up front.
“It’s really fitted in perfectly because the reason why I got through to the last 16 was because of my attacking ability and now my manager has pushed me up front.
“I wouldn’t have that confidence in scoring goals if I hadn’t had that backing from Eni Aluko and the rest of the coaching staff.
“Also, I don’t think I would have had the amount of confidence that I do now playing if I didn’t get through to the last 16.
“Having other people believe in you helps you to believe in yourself so that’s something I really took away.”
Fox was one of the players who made it to the last 16 and was featured in the final game of the series where her team came out on top.
But it wasn’t just about the football for the 21-year-old, she wanted to be open and vulnerable about the struggles she’s had in the past.
On the show, the University of Bedfordshire student read an extract from the book she released aged 18 called Within the White Lines: How The Beautiful Game Saved My Life.
She was diagnosed with depression at the age of 14 and took a break away from the sport before coming back, but then she reached a point where she had suicidal thoughts at the age of 17.
Last year, Fox had inpatient stays in hospital and finally found some solace when she was diagnosed with emotionally unstable personality disorder.
“I got diagnosed last year when I was in hospital and it’s something I knew very little about when I got diagnosed,” Fox explained.
“And that’s a scary thing because when you google it, the first thing that comes up is all the negative stats and symptoms of it.
“It’s a very scary place to be diagnosed with something that’s got such negative connotations.
“My big aspiration is to raise positive awareness of EUPD showing that you can function with it, you can live a relatively normal life. You can live, you can play football, you can go to university and have friends.”
Episode three of Ultimate Goal was where Fox had the chance to tell her story and be open about her journey in football.
She was able to shine a light on mental health and received positive feedback after the episode was broadcast, while viewers also sought out her book and it achieved the highest ranking it’s ever had.
Fox added: “It’s been amazing and especially for me I really wanted to touch young players who are potentially in the position that I was in.
“I wanted to be that beacon of hope and light for them to show that dark times do come to an end and I hoped that I could be that voice for them so they know that they’re not alone.
“The reaction has been really positive and more positive than I could have imagined.
“I think a lot of people were invested in it and wanted to hear more about my story and my journey.
“That was great because I wrote it for that particular reason to reach someone out there who needs to hear it and having as much exposure as possible is really valuable to me because it means I could reach more and more people.
“I always say as long as it helps someone then that’s my job done.”