Soccer: East Ridge's Goulding makes Irish national teamAfter a tryout in Dublin earlier this summer, East Ridge sophomore Payton Goulding earned a spot on the Ireland women’s under-17 year old soccer team and will soon help Ireland take on other teams from across Europe in the UEFA European Women’s Under 17 Championship tournament.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, South Washington County Bulletin
In a little more than a month, East Ridge sophomore Payton Goulding will try to obtain her driver’s license. Before that, however, she’ll get her Irish passport.
After a tryout in Dublin earlier this summer, Goulding, 15, earned a spot on the Ireland women’s under-17 year old soccer team and will soon help Ireland take on other teams from across Europe in the UEFA European Women’s Under 17 Championship tournament.
“We’re very excited for her,” said Mark Goulding, Payton’s father. “It’s a little unnerving as a parent. But, I don’t mind her going to Ireland, because my family is over there and she’ll be with the team the whole time. It’s a great experience for her and we’re very proud of her for making the team.”
Payton’s grandfather, Thomas Goulding, is from Ireland and played professional soccer in Ireland and England. Mark Goulding currently has dual citizenship between Ireland and the United States. Soon, Payton will too.
“My dad is as proud as a peacock,” Mark Goulding said. “Not only because he’s Irish, but being a professional footballer as well.”
Payton’s grandpa currently lives in Waterford, Ireland - roughly 105 miles south of Dublin. Payton said she is getting to know her family in Ireland even better now and expects to see them while in Europe.
“I’m very excited that I get to make my family proud and pursue my dreams,” Payton said. “It means the world to me and my family. I’m so excited to get to make my grandparents happy and my family happy. That puts a huge smile on my face.”
Because she is part of the national team, all of Payton’s travel and other expenses are covered by the Football Association of Ireland. Payton said she sees this as a unique opportunity to travel and see the world.
“It’s very exciting. The support from my high school teammates, my coaches and the teachers and staff at East Ridge has been tremendous,” she said. “I couldn’t do this without them.”
In addition to playing varsity for East Ridge, Payton played for the Minnesota Thunder Academy Under 15 team this past year. Her club took on other all-star teams from other states across the U.S. in the prestigious Elite Clubs National League.
At a recent game, scouts from the Irish national team invited 10 players from the league to try out for the under-17 team in Dublin. From that, Goulding was selected as a center back for the national squad.
Next, Goulding and the Irish under-17 team plays a friendly against Denmark on Sept. 4 in Dublin. After that, Goulding will travel back to Europe, this time to Bellarus, for the UEFA European Championships from Oct. 1 - 6. There, Ireland will take on Greece, Italy and Serbia in pool play.
“Those are the two commitments she has so far,” Mark Goulding said. “Needless to say as a parent, we’re kind of concerned about the amount of time in school she’ll be missing for this. Therein lies the challenge for the Goulding family.”
The Irish under-17 team is a developmental squad for the Republic of Ireland Senior Women's International team, which is currently ranked 28th in the World and 17th in Europe.
Goulding said now that she’s a part of the Irish soccer program she’s going to set her mind to even bigger sights.
“Right now, I’m just focused on the national team, but my goal is to someday play in the Olympics and play for Ireland’s national team in the World Cup,” she said. “Those are my top goals.”