IRELAND women’s national team manager Vera Pauw has praised the bravery of Cork’s Clare Shine.
Shine recently opened up about her mental health struggles in an honest and poignant open letter to her younger self.
The Douglas native, who is currently signed with Glasgow City, had spoken honestly about her experiences of suicidal thoughts in the letter published by online sports platform, The Sports Chronicle, in January.
The 24-year-old’s excellent form for her club earned her a recall to the Irish national team and she started in their last outing, a 3-0 victory away to Montenegro which sent them top of Group I in the European qualifiers.
“It is fantastic to see how she is coming back into the game and the level she is now at,” said Pauw. “She can only grow from this, she can go further.
"If she is already at this level, and what I heard is that she was a Cork goalscorer before, we are all seeing now that there were moments that she was holding in but I am sure that she gets back by playing at that level.
"We will see how it further develops but the great thing is that sport is giving her a structure to get her life back and it is so brave that she is so open about that.
"I am proud that I can play a little role in that but the selection is based on qualities, on performance, because it’s a national team. It’s top sport and I am so happy that she is at a level that she is a part of the squad, that we benefit from her but most of all that it gives her the structure she has worked so hard for.”
The Dutch coach has praised the approach to women’s football on Leeside which has led to players like Shine and Denise O’Sullivan showcasing their qualities on an international stage.
Pauw, who is in talks with the FAI about extending her current deal, also believes Cork City’s approach to developing young footballers has been significant.
They regularly test themselves with friendlies against local boys teams as well as integrating new training methods aimed at helping their relatively young squad to progress. It has ensured the likes of Éabha O’Mahony and Zara Foley were able to make the step up to the Irish senior side at the tender age of 17.
“I think the secret is that they have so many players of a young age category there together with a staff that is very determined to develop the players,” she enthused.
“It’s not only to win medals there but it is to develop the players. They are a great example of what you can achieve if you have your mindset on development.”