Women’s World Cup mums balance parenting duties with footballing ambitions

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Jamaican Women’s World Cup player Cheyna Matthews becomes emotional as she remembers one of her three young sons asking, “Why are you always away for so long?” 

However, certain players at the tournament in Australia and New Zealand have discovered a way to alleviate their concerns about being separated from their children for extended periods of time – they have chosen to bring their kids along with them.

Melanie Leupolz, a midfielder for Germany, has brought her baby son and a nanny with her for the tournament. The tournament will last for a month, assuming Germany reaches the final in Sydney on August 20th. 

With the preparations leading up to the tournament, it can be a lengthy trip. Leupolz left her young son with the nanny for two days at the team base near Sydney while the team traveled to Melbourne. In Melbourne, Germany started their campaign with a dominant 6-0 victory over Morocco.

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“It’s quite a challenge. It’s draining and takes up a lot of energy,” the 29-year-old Chelsea player said in an interview with broadcaster DAZN, reflecting on balancing her playing career with parenting.

“I wanted to show women: Hey, you can do both. That’s what drove me.”

During a recent interview aired by FIFA, Matthews and her fellow Jamaican player, Konya Plummer, were captured sharing a moment of laughter as they watched videos of their children. However, mixed with their joy, there were also tears as they were separated from their loved ones.

“The reason I really push to play soccer is that I want my kid to know I am strong,” says Plummer, who has a baby boy.

Many Women’s World Cup players have discovered that it is beneficial to bring their children along with them. This includes Alex Morgan, the American striker, and Amel Majri from France. 

Morgan, who is 34 years old and has won the Women’s World Cup twice, became a mother to her daughter, Charlie, three years ago. While Morgan desires to see her daughter “almost every day,” she acknowledges that team regulations are stringent and there is also the challenge of traveling to various cities for matches. As a result, Charlie will be accompanied by a nanny during the tournament.

Asked if it was tough balancing her Women’s World Cup with being a mum, Morgan said: “It is hard because every day I miss her so much.”

“But when she is here I know I am playing two roles – as a mum and soccer player, so it is give and take.”

“It is the life of a professional athlete with families,” she added.

Majri, the midfielder, mentioned that having young children around during team camps can provide a sense of lightness and uplift the mood in times of high tension or low morale.

“A child is only joy and good humour within any group,” the 30-year-old told AFP just ahead of the World Cup about having her one-year-old daughter Maryam with the squad.

“Sometimes we are not satisfied with training and we are a little tired, and so when I find my daughter, it gives me a huge energy boost.”

Laura Freigang, a forward from Germany, acknowledges that having children present can provide a pleasant diversion from the stress of participating in the World Cup.

“It’s just funny when you’re eating and a serious announcement is made, but then a toddler comes babbling along,” she said.

Leupolz is aware that, regardless of the outcome, she can always count on a supportive presence to come back to, unlike fans who may be harsh in defeat.

“Sure, it’s super exhausting, but when you come home and get a smile, you know what you’re doing it all for,” she said.

READ ALSO: AC Milan sign Nigeria forward Samuel Chukwueze from Villarreal on five-year deal

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