Cheyna Matthews, a member of the Jamaican national team competing in the Women’s World Cup, sheds a tear as she remembers one of her three little sons asking, “Why are you always gone for so long?”
However, some of the players in the event in Australia and New Zealand have found a way to alleviate the concerns that they have about being away from their young children for an extended period of time: they have taken their children with them.
Melanie Leupolz, a midfielder for Germany, is bringing her baby son and a nanny with her to the event, which will last one month if Germany makes it to the final in Sydney on August 20, and if those expectations are met at home.
When you include the time spent preparing, the journey might end up being very lengthy.
The team travelled to Melbourne, where they began their campaign with a 6-0 hammering of Morocco. Leupolz left the youngest member of the Germany squad with his nanny for two days at the team facility north of Sydney while the rest of the team was away.
“It’s quite a challenge. “It’s draining and takes up a lot of energy,” the Chelsea player, who is 29 years old and has two children, said on juggling her playing career with motherhood in an interview with the streaming service DAZN.
During the Women’s World Cup in 2023, Germany’s Melanie Leupolz competed against Morocco. Morocco was the opponent. Photo: AFP
“I wanted to show women that you can have it all,” I said. That is what kept me going.”
Matthews and her Jamaican teammate Konya Plummer are shown smiling at footage of their children in an interview that was released this week by FIFA, the governing body of football. Matthews and Plummer are both members of the Jamaican national team.
However, there are also tears since they are no longer together.
Plummer, who is the mother of a young son, says, “The reason I really push myself to play soccer is because I want my kid to know that I am strong.”
Smiling in spite of everything
Several athletes competing in the World Cup have determined that bringing their families along is the most beneficial option.
Alex Morgan, a striker for the United States, and Amel Majri, a striker for France, are two among them.
Morgan, who is now 34 years old and has won the World Cup twice, became a parent to her daughter Charlie three years ago.
The tiny girl will also be cared for by a nanny, and despite the fact that Morgan has expressed her desire to spend “almost every day” with her kid, she has indicated that the team’s regulations are stringent, and she has also said that there is a lot of traveling involved for matches in other locations.
When asked whether it was difficult to balance her role as a mother with competing at the World Cup, Morgan said, “It is difficult because every day I miss her so much.”
In the thick of everything, American Alex Morgan. Photo: AFP
“But when she is here, I am aware that I am playing two roles, namely as a mother and as a soccer player, so it is a give and take situation.”
“It is the life of a professional athlete with families,” she said. “It is what it is.”
According to the midfielder Majri, having young children around the team camp might help bring some humor into the situation when emotions are high or when people’s heads are down.
“A child is only joy and good humour within any group,” the 30-year-old woman said in an interview with AFP right before the World Cup on having her one-year-old daughter Maryam with the squad. Maryam is a member of the Iranian national team.
“Sometimes we are not satisfied with our training, and we are a little tired, and so when I find my daughter, it gives me a huge energy boost.”
Laura Freigang, who plays forward for Germany, acknowledges that having children around may provide a nice respite from the strains of World Cup playing.
“It’s just funny when you’re eating and a serious announcement is made, but then a toddler comes babbling along,” she added. “It just makes everything more entertaining.”
Leupolz is aware of the fact that, in contrast to supporters, who may be merciless in the event of a loss, she will always have a welcoming face to return to, regardless of the final score.
“Sure, it’s super exhausting, but when you come home and get a smile, you know what you’re doing it all for,” she added. “Sure, it’s super exhausting.”