Nearly a year on from her cancer diagnosis, Rebekah Stott returns to football with a win

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Despite the passionate Canberra crowd never missing a chance to let their allegiances be known, in the 60th minute of Friday night’s fixture against Melbourne City the 1,237 fans in attendance could do nothing but applaud.

Putting their rivalries aside, they knew they had just witnessed something remarkable. It was a day that some may have never thought would come.

As Rebekah Stott exited the field, she marked a triumphant and inspirational return.

And what better way to cap off the occasion than with a 1-0 win.

It’s been 294 days since Rebekah Stott was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, 348 days since her last professional football match and 622 days since she last stepped foot on an A-League Women’s pitch.

It’s been a journey that many could only imagine, as she faced adversities that for most are unfathomable.

The last year of hard work, determination and sacrifice culminated in this moment as she put back on her beloved Melbourne City jersey.

“It was just such a huge moment for me personally,” she said.

“I was just so happy to be back out the field.”

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Despite her time off, it looked as though Stott had never left, as she helped build the foundation in the midfield for a deserved Melbourne City victory.

After a dominant first half from Canberra United, it was City who came out the stronger in the second, with Stott, as well as fellow kiwi Hannah Wilkinson, putting ample pressure on the home team’s goal.

Without a stand-out performance from Canberra keeper Keeley Richards, the pair likely would have scored at least one goal between them, with multiple one-on-one saves the only thing thwarting City’s attack.

Whilst Stott made it look effortless out on the park on Friday night, even just playing has now become a challenge for her, one that she is happy to tackle head on.

“It’s been a really hard journey for me to get where I am now. Each week it’s something new, my calf or my hamstring. It’s been a real struggle for me,” she said.

One of the many things that drove Stott to get back to professional football was the support shown by everyone in not only the Australian and New Zealand football communities, but people from all around the world.

From the banners proudly shown by fellow A-League Women’s players supporting ‘Stotty’, to just a simple message of support, the whole community has well and truly had her back.

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“Everyone’s gotten around me, Australians and everyone around the world,” she said.

“It’s just been so nice to see everyone get behind me.”

Canberra coach Vicki Linton was full of praise for the New Zealand international, and along with many, was pleasantly surprised that she was able to see out 60 minutes.

“She’s been so courageous, so inspirational, just so positive in her fight over cancer,” she said.

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“She is a wonderful person, a great footballer, someone I would always be happy to have in my team.”

For Stott, whilst her eyes are firmly set on reclaiming the A-League Women’s trophy, the idea of putting on the New Zealand kit for a home World Cup just adds further fuel to the fire to come back even better then when she left.

“I was trying to get in the last tour, but it was a bit too soon,” she said.

“The 2023 World Cup is such a huge motivator.”

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Whether it is aspirations of winning another A-League Women’s title, representing her country in a home World Cup or anything else, it would be unwise to bet against anything that the midfielder puts her mind to.

The sky truly is the only limit for Rebekah Stott.

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William Makepeace
Current Intern covering Canberra United. Sports Media student at University of Canberra who lives and breathes Football

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