It’s been a long, soul-searching trip for Samantha Savoy on the road to playing professional soccer overseas.
The Surrey-raised athlete, 25, is now living in Germany, where she’s found a home on defense with the Bischofswerdaer FV 08 club of 3.Liga, the country’s third division.
She’s been there since June, not long after she had fully healed from a 2016 car crash that ended her college soccer career in Canada and stalled her dream of playing pro one day.
One weekend four years ago, while playing at UBCO in Kelowna, Savoy decided to come home to visit family and friends in Vancouver. On the Alex Fraser Bridge, she was a passenger in a vehicle that crashed into a cement barricade at high speed, after a collision with a swerving truck.
“The impact was very severe, and it was a very traumatic experience,” Savoy recalled. “I had discs out of place in my neck, large concussion, bruising and PTSD. It really hit me that I was affected by the accident. For a long time, if I was in a grocery store, for example, my body would flinch without my control due to the trauma of the car-accident impact.”
Savoy says she had to step away from soccer to recover, both mentally and physically.
Earlier in life, the game had given her joy while at Fleetwood Park Secondary and also with Surrey United, the club that kept her busy on the pitch for a full decade, from 2004 to 2014.
Post-secondary, Savoy was told she wasn’t good enough for the Douglas College squad before she earned a spot on Kwantlen’s team, a year prior to the cancellation of the KPU athletics program in 2015. Next stop was UBCO for a single soccer season there, when the car crash put an end to fun and games.
She tried to replace soccer with competitive running, but quickly realized that her love of the beautiful game couldn’t be replaced. Eventually, she resorted to her old habit of getting a ball at her feet.
“It was a natural outlet for me to clear my head and hopefully gain a new perspective of the situation,” Savoy wrote in a series of emails to the Now-Leader.
While in Germany last summer, she ordered a ball and cleats online.
“I started training on my own and was scouted in July while at a field, and received a trial offer for Bischofswerdaer FV 08,” Savoy explained. “I didn’t put too much pressure on myself, as I hadn’t played competitively for four years and my ergonomics switched with my transition to running. I got a contract offer on Day 2, and the rest is history. Since joining the team, I’ve been within the starting 11 and have played full matches.”
Savoy also keeps busy as a scout with WARUBI Sports, following work as technical analyst for the Vancouver Whitecaps FC Girls Elite REX National Development Program a few years ago.
The COVID-19 pandemic has paused the 3.Liga season for the month of November, at least, and Savoy has made the decision to remain in Germany and not travel home for Christmas.
“I am thankful my parents and family support me with this decision,” she said. “It’s not safe for myself to be travelling and risking the health of others. I think it would be selfish and wrong.”
As for soccer, Savoy says right now it’s important she continues to put herself in an environment that will set her up for the most success.
“I believe embracing the difficult situations in life will be the most rewarding. It all comes down to perspective and mindset,” she noted.
“It’s interesting how things can come full circle. I took a lot of time away from the sport but I feel like this is now my second chance to live out my dream, and I am truly grateful for it.”